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The carnival atmosphere at Cape Town Stadium wasn’t enough to carry the Blitzboks to victory in the local leg of the World Sevens Series. While the players typically refuse to look for excuses, the injury-enforced loss of playmakers like Kyle Brown and Seabelo Senatla in the semi-final against New Zealand would have been disruptive. But the second-place finish means the South Africans are still on top of the Series log after two rounds with a two point advantage over England, their Cape Town conquerors. The Sevens circus goes to Wellington at the end of January, where South Africa are in the toughest of pools alongside their arch-nemesis Fiji and the unpredictable Australians. – Stuart Lowman
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell was naturally “bitterly disappointed” following Sunday’s 19-17 loss to England in the final of the Cape Town Sevens.
The result was a major upset after the South Africans had looked the form side in the competition all weekend.
With a blend of desire, skill, pace and physicality the Blitzboks looked a cut above the rest over the two days and when Fiji were knocked out of the quarter-finals by England, the path to a fourth successive tournament win on home soil looked straightforward for South Africa.
They did have their injury woes – Kyle Brown and Seabelo Senatla missed the final – but coach Neil Powell was making no excuses following the defeat.
“They are two of our most senior and valuable players, but that’s why we have a squad and we need everyone to be up there if they get their opportunity,” he said.
“We can’t use it as an excuse. I think England played well in that final and took their opportunities when they got them.”
Despite the loss, the Blitzboks remain top of the World Rugby Sevens Series standings having won in Dubai two weekends ago.
“Happy … better than last year. We would have loved to end the year with a win and give the fans a bit of a Christmas present, but it’s not always a fairy tale … it wasn’t to be,” said Powell.
“That’s part of the disappointment … the people that came out to support us and the way they supported us … we would have loved to give them a win.”
The Blitzboks look in fantastic shape and there is a real sense that they are onto something special this season with New Zealand having gone back to the drawing board and the Fijians under a new coach.
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) December 11, 2016
Powell, though, said the success of the Blitzboks this year so far had a lot to do with their physical conditioning.
“We must give credit to a guy like Allan Temple-Jones, our conditioning guy, who gets the guys’ strength up and gets them to be one of the fittest teams on the circuit,” said Powell.
“He’s been in the system for nine years already and he knows what it takes to get the guys ready for a long season.”
The Blitzboks are next in action when the New Zealand leg of the season gets underway on January 29. – Sport24
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