The Blitzboks, playing in a semi-final for the lowly fifth place against Fiji, second teams in the World Rugby’s Sevens Series, lost their second match in the Las Vegas tournament on Saturday.
This time, however, there was a resolute effort and the scoreline does not do justice to the young Blitzboks dominance in the second half. The score was 14-12, and the difference was a first-half conversion from Branco du Preez, in a very strong wind from the touch line, that hit the cross bar.
What make the performance against Fiji all the more noteworthy was the fact that all five the young subs had a decent run as part of coach Neil Powell’s stated strategy to start building for the future after the loss of so many of his stalwarts that carried the team to two successive series titles in the past two years.
There is, as expected, plenty of inexperienced talent, and JC Pretorius (Photo above by David van der Sandt) in particular is one to watch as the series progresses.
♦ In a media release by SA Rugby Communications Blitzboks coach Powell said the result was frustrating, but he did not fault the effort of the players.
“They gave it all out there and I am pleased with the effort,” said Powell.
“We made some errors on attack, but I told the guys before the match that we should finish it knowing we executed and gave our all. It was a bit frustrating that we could not quite get the first one right. Our decision making was lacking a bit in the final minutes.”
Powell said the experience gained by the youngsters such as Pretorius and Sako Makata will benefit the team: “The only way for them to become better is to play and learn and from that perspective, they got some good game time this weekend.”
Siviwe Soyizwapi said the squad will digest what when wrong and come back stronger for Vancouver.
“It was a very up and down weekend for us and we need to fix that,” said Soyizwapi.
“We managed to do a few good things, but errors again cost us. We need to fix that and make sure we stick to our processes. All is not lost and we can still bounce back.”
The sixth place resulted in England edging past South Africa on the World Series log.
The log position after five tournaments is ‒
- USA 98
- New Zealand 93
- Fiji 84
- England 68
- South Africa 67
- Australia 57