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Disappointing finish to the Commonwealth Games for the Blitzboks

JOHANNESBURG — This will have hurt. The Blitzboks were largely favoured to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, having sent a full-strength side to the Gold Coast and opting for a second-strength side to compete in the Hong Kong leg of the World Sevens Series (and excelling in finishing third). To finish outside of the medals is a huge disappointment for Neil Powell’s men whose discipline was surprisingly poor after good starts against Fiji in the semi-finals and England in the third-place playoff. But South Africa still lead the overall standings of this season’s World Sevens Series with four tournaments to play, and the Rugby World Cup Sevens is just three months away. There’s still plenty to play for. – David O’Sullivan

From SA Rugby

The Springbok Sevens team missed out on a podium finish at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia and have now set their sights on the remaining two objectives they aim to achieve this season.

That was the message from Blitzbok coach Neil Powell, after his team suffered two defeats in the Robina Stadium on Sunday, first to Fiji (24-19) in the semi-finals and then to England (21-14) in the bronze medal play-off.

“It was a very disappointing performance and not what we wanted to achieve for Team South Africa,” said Powell.

“We just did not deliver and were not good enough on the day. Our attack did not function as earlier in the year and we gave both Fiji and England opportunities to score points.”

Powell said the team will now shift their focus to the remainder of the season: “We had three big objectives this year, and the fact that we failed in the first will make us more determined to succeed in the other two.

“We are still leading the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with four tournaments to go, so we will put a lot of effort into that. The Rugby World Cup Sevens in July is also another one we targeted to do well, so hard work awaits.”

Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman lamented his team’s execution on the final day in Australia: “We played well on the first day, but on Sunday, when it mattered, we did not.

“There are no excuses for that; we learned some harsh lessons. The match against Fiji could have gone either way to be honest, but we gave them too much in that first half. Against England, we controlled the first half, only to concede three tries and our chance for a medal, which hurts.”

Against Fiji in the semi-finals, three mistakes in the first half saw the current Olympic champions race away to a 12-0 lead at the break. A brace by Rosko Specman and a try for Dylan Sage evened out the scores and extra time was needed to determine the winner, when a stray pass by South Africa saw Fiji sprint away for the winning score.

In the final match of the tournament, against England, two well-worked efforts by Branco du Preez and Ruhan Nel had the Blitzboks in control at the break.

But they failed to maintain the effort in the second half as England capitalised on mistakes and scored the winning points in the final minute to claim bronze.

The medals went to New Zealand (gold), Fiji (silver) and England (bronze). The next tournament in the World Series is the HSBC Singapore Sevens on 28-29 April.

Scorers:

South Africa v Fiji – Tries: Rosko Specman (2), Dylan Sage. Conversions: Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika.

South Africa v England – Tries: Branco du Preez, Ruhan Nel. Conversions: Branco du Preez (2).

Notes:

Branco du Preez was the leading points’ scorer with 33.

Rosko Specman was the leading try scorer with five (25 points).

Source: http://www.sarugby.co.za/article.aspx?category=sarugby/sevens&id=4280954

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