Disappointing third place for Blitzboks in Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG — The optimists will suggest that the third place finish for the Blitzboks at the past weekend’s Cape Town Sevens marks an improvement for the team, after their poor (by their standards) 6th place in Dubai the previous week. However, Neil Powell’s men can’t be content with the performance. The team seemed sluggish and indecisive compared with the speed and commitment show last year. There were occasions when playmaker Justin Geduld took a penalty tap standing still and waiting for the opposition to advance before attempting an attack. All too often the Blitzbok offensive was quickly shut down as their opponents swarmed around them. Another problem area was the tackling. As happened in Dubai, the Blitzboks were guilty of missing too many first-time tackles which often prove fatal in the fast-paced world of Sevens rugby. The South Africans seemed to be battling to adjust to World Rugby’s extremely strict stance on high tackles, and Shakes Soyizwapi in particular was guilty of going in around his opponent’s neck and head too many times. In the game against Scotland, he was yellow-carded and was substituted a little later as Neil Powell sought to avoid one of his star players getting a red card and a subsequent suspension. The Blitzboks weren’t as clinical as they have been in shutting out their opponents, and they allowed New Zealand to score twice in just over 30 seconds in their group clash and avoid being knocked out of the Cup competition for the first time in their history. They made amends by beating their old rivals in the third place playoff, but the South Africans will rue the missed chances and the opportunity to win their home tournament in front of a colourful, passionate crowd. – David O’Sullivan

From SARugby

The Springbok Sevens team finished third at the HSBC Cape Town Sevens on Sunday after they beat New Zealand 10-5 in the bronze medal match, finishing a weekend that received the thumbs up from Blitzbok coach Neil Powell and captain Philip Snyman.

Starting the match with only 10 fit players, the Blitzboks, who lost 26-21 in injury time of their final Pool A clash on Saturday, finished strong in the return against the All Blacks Sevens. Rosko Specman opened the scoring but New Zealand hit back to make it 5-5 at the break. With less than two minutes to go, Dewald Human crossed in the corner and the Blitzboks held on.

Snyman (shoulder) and Muller du Plessis (back strain) were ruled out of action on Sunday, while Zain Davids missed the final match with a hamstring injury.

Snyman praised the team’s guts and determination to win the bronze final.

Philip Snyman Blitzboks
Philip Snyman models the Madiba-inspired Blitzbok jersey worn at the Cape Town Sevens. Credit: SARugby

“We started that match with only ten players and played until the very last second of the match, something I am very proud of,” said Snyman.

“Having conceded late tries against them last night and against Fiji earlier on Sunday in the Cup semi-final, the guys proved their determination not to do so again.”

Powell was equally pleased: “We finished sixth in Dubai where we played poorly in our first four matches. We started picking up some momentum and I think we improved further this weekend.

“We let ourselves down at times, but we certainly finished in a much better state than last weekend. This is a good, positive way to finish the second leg of the series, with some momentum to take into the next leg in Hamilton in late January,” said Powell.

Blitzbok winger Siviwe Soyizwapi, agreed with Powell and said it was a “much better feeling” than last weekend.

“We were competitive all along and had we played one of two moments better, we could have been smiling now,” said Soyizwapi.

“Six guys played here in Cape Town for the first time and they would have benefitted from this as well. As usual the crowd came out in massive numbers and it was an honour to play here.”

The third place in Cape Town also moved the team up the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings and they will travel to New Zealand in fifth place overall, where they were drawn in the same pool as Scotland, France and Kenya.

The current standings are: 1. USA 38 points 2. New Zealand 37 3. Fiji 35 4. England 30 5. South Africa 29

Rosko Specman was named in the tournament Dream Team.

Scorers

Bronze medal match: South Africa 10 (5) New Zealand 5 (5)

South Africa – Tries: Rosko Specman, Dewald Human.

New Zealand – Try: Sione Molia.

Cup semi-final: South Africa 12 (7) Fiji 17 (12)

South Africa – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi, Rosko Specman. Conversion: Justin Geduld.

Fiji – Tries: Vilimoni Botitu, Waisea Nacuqu, Alosio Naduva. Conversion: Nacuqu.

Cup quarter-final: South Africa 21 (7) Scotland 12 (7)

South Africa – Tries: Justin Geduld, Rosko Specman, Werner Kok. Conversions: Justin Geduld (3).

Scotland – Tries: Sam Pecqueur (2). Conversion: Gavin Lowe.

Source: http://www.sarugby.co.za/article.aspx?category=sarugby/sevens&id=4441894