“We were just poor against Kenya, with our basics not on par”
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell admitted his team simply weren’t good enough at certain stages of their campaign in Hamilton.
The Blitzboks finished 10th in New Zealand after a 21-19 defeat to England followed by a 36-14 disappointment against Kenya in their final Pool B game.
They lost a total of three matches at FMG Stadium Waikato over the two-day tournament, with their troubles continuing in their ninth-place play-off against Fiji, an encounter they lost 12-5.
They beat Japan 31-5 in their opening game early Saturday morning.
While the Blitzboks have only themselves to blame for the basic errors they made, the tournament structure in Hamilton certainly wouldn’t have won any fans.
Powell’s men had gone into the third leg of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series tied with New Zealand – who also dropped a pool game but managed to progress to the semi-finals thanks to a superior points difference as none of the teams in their pool had gone unbeaten – at the top of the standings.
The Hamilton leg saw only the top team in each pool progress to the semis, with the quarter-final stage scrapped. The same system will be in play in Australia this weekend, a change that wasn’t welcomed in an Olympic year, unsurprisingly, given the implications it can have on the series standings and Olympic qualification.
These results, coupled with New Zealand winning their home tournament, saw the Blitzboks drop to joint-second spot on the overall series standings after the third of 10 tournaments. The New Zealanders, who beat France 27-5 in the final, top the log with 63 points, followed by South Africa and France (48.
“We were just poor against Kenya, with our basics not on par,” said Powell about the performance that saw the Blitzboks down 19-0 in the opening half.
“If you can’t even win kick-offs you are in trouble. We were also playing catch-up rugby from early on and forced the game a bit, which again created mistakes they capitalised on.
“The unpredictability of Sevens again showed. Sometimes you have a good week and a poor tournament, like this one, other times a bad week resulted in a good tournament.”
Against Fiji, the Blitzboks had been in control for the greater part of the game, but two tries by Fiji in the last two minutes got the job done for the Pacific Islanders.
There were, however, some positives, according to the coach.
“Yes, there were some positives from that match, and we can take that into Australia,” said Powell.
“We managed to improve our control and it gave us some momentum to take to Sydney. The lack of finishing was still present though, but that was sort of the theme of our weekend. We could not finish the numerous opportunities we created and that was clearly not good enough.
“We will have to plan this coming week accordingly.”