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Blitzboks still have mountain to climb

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“If we can’t get the basics right, we can’t expect to play in finals and semi-finals.”

PASSION: Simon Kennewell of Australia is shadowed by South Africas Werner Kok during the Sydney Sevens match at Spotless Stadium in Sydney on Saturday. Picture: EPA / Craig Golding

It took the Blitzboks a late try by Kyle Brown to secure a frustrating fifth spot, beating hosts Australia in their home tournament, in Sydney.

The finish keeps the South African Sevens team still in the top four, but they have a mountain to climb to try and catch Fiji who are 15 points ahead in third place on the overall standings.

The 12-10 win over Australia was the last victory for the Blitzboks in their tour Down Under, but earlier yesterday they also managed to beat Spain 33-0, but this came after a disappointing 26-5 loss to England in the Cup quarter-finals.

Day one had its ups and downs as well with the Blitzboks scoring good wins over Tonga (45-5) and Argentina (25-10), but they conceded two late tries against Australia to lose 29-21 at the end of the first day.

Blitzbok coach, Neil Powell, afterwards said the inconsistency in performances in Sydney was frustrating.

“It was a frustrating weekend yes. At times we played really good Sevens, but too often we failed in some basics. We would have a good half and then follow that up by a poor one.

“If we can’t get the basics right, we can’t expect to play in finals and semi-finals.”

The coach said the usual spark seemed missing at times. “We were a bit quiet in the warm-up this morning before England and that is not the normal culture in the team.

“We need to be mentally and physically ready for knock-out matches and that is something we will have a look at as we get back home and start preparing for the Las Vegas event,” he said.

The coach however refused to blame the lack of experience among his ranks for some of the errors made, but admits that lessons learned must be implemented.

“Look, you are going to make mistakes. We had JC Pretorius on debut and Impi Visser in only his fourth tournament, so we must realise there is a transition taking place.

We still need to cut out mistakes though. We conceded a yellow card again and you cannot play with six men against the likes of England, Fiji and New Zealand.”

There is a break now from the Sevens World Series as the Blitzboks prepare to head to Las Vegas at the beginning of March, hopeful that they can make some ground on the top three teams who are racing ahead.