DHL IPA: Samoa’s John Vaili shines at sensational Singapore 7s

South Africa scores an incredible comeback as Vaili makes an impressive impact.

We were truly blessed with some sensational sevens this weekend in Singapore. South Africa completed a remarkable comeback in the Cup final, denying Fiji back-to-back titles. England equaled their best finish, denying USA yet another medal. Samoa finished in fifth, denying New Zealand much-needed series points. We even saw a dramatic and impressive Challenge Trophy, as France orchestrated a moment of match-wining magic in the game’s final seconds. 

Simply sensational

Samoa’s fifth place finish is the team’s fourth consecutive top six since taking silver in Las Vegas. One reason has certainly been the impact of John Vaili – the Samoan winger who is increasingly seen streaking away down the sevens sidelines.

After impressing us all in Hong Kong and tying for second on the DHL Performance Tracker, Vaili took his game to another level in Singapore. He was simply exceptional from start to finish, rounding off the weekend by scoring the winning try vs. New Zealand.

While his work rate was phenomenal, his skill and dancing feet were what really caught the eye – a pure pleasure to watch. When all was said and done on Sunday, Vaili had chalked up 6 tackles, 5 breaks, 11 offloads and 32 carries for a stellar point total of 54 – seven points clear of his nearest challenger, USA’s Stephen Tomasin. 

England’s Harry Glover came in third with 46 points, which included an impressive 16 tackles!

Overall, Canada’s Connor Braid remains in the lead on the DHL Performance Tracker after continuing his consistently high performance. His 42 points not only put him in the top ten in Singapore, it also put him at 298 points and 26 ahead of second-placed Vilimoni Botitu, who now has 272 points. That is certainly a large gap to close with just two tournaments remaining, but a strong showing in London from Botitu could make things rather exciting heading into Paris.

Cup comeback

South Africa denied Fiji back-to-back titles in Singapore with a dramatic 20-19 victory in the Cup final at the National Stadium.

The Blitzboks, who have only won two of their 30 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup titles in Asia, scored 20 unanswered points to complete the most remarkable of comebacks in the Cup final. It was a turnaround that won the UL Mark of Excellence Award.

The South African’s won six out of six in an almost flawless tournament. En route to the final, they defeated Fiji 17-7 in the pool stages, Samoa 21-12 in the quarter-finals and USA 24-12 in the semi-finals. They then found themselves down 19-0 at half time in the final against Fiji, who were going for back-to-back titles, having won in Hong Kong a week earlier. Yet they turned the match around and scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to claim victory.

“The best final in the 2019 series so far by a country mile,” said Rob Vickerman, former England 7s captain.

“The best final in the 2019 series so far by a country mile.”

Rob Vickerman, form England 7s captain

Tight at the top

After slowly chipping away at USA’s lead with their impressive medal performances over the past three tournaments, Fiji is now only trailing the Eagles by three points. Though USA’s eighth consecutive Cup semi-final didn’t go their way, Mike Friday’s men will definitely have their eyes on the prize next month in London as they look fend off Fiji.

New Zealand is a further 12 points adrift, and it looks like they’ll be working to hold onto third rather than battling for title glory. South Africa is in fourth place, nine behind the All Blacks on 121 and 14 ahead of England, which suggests they have the automatic Olympic qualification in the bag.

Next up: London

With only two tournaments to play in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, the London Sevens will be a make or break moment for several teams and players. Will the Eagles soar to victory or watch Fiji fly by? Will one or both of the two top contenders implode, allowing New Zealand and South Africa to close the gap? Will Connor Braid’s consistency continue, giving him the edge he needs to hold off Botitu? 

We’ll have the answers on May 26.

DHL Impact Player Award

A rugby player produces moments of skill and flair that are critical to a team’s success on the pitch, in the same way that DHL uses care and commitment to service your shipments. The DHL Impact Player Award recognizes such moments using a statistical analysis of individual players performances measured against four key criteria: Offloads, Carries, Line breaks and Tackles. The scores are compiled and presented on the DHL Performance Tracker, where the total score for each player is a combination of each criteria.

A winner is announced at the end of each individual tournament and the Overall Series Winner is judged across all 10 legs for Men’s and all 5 for the Women’s.

Follow #DHLImpactPlayer and @DHLRugby on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all the updates and insight on the DHL Impact Player Award!

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