It was far from the flamboyant and pretty rugby that the Springbok Sevens play, but their hard fought wins against Wales and Canada were enough to secure them a place in the quarter-finals of the Las Vegas leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Blitzboks were forced to dig deep and grind out a 26-21 win against Wales after falling behind 14-0 and had to endure an even tougher physical battle against Canada to emerge 19-12 winners.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell acknowledged the ugliness of their wins but highlighted the mental fortitude of his side and character to not allow anything stand in the way of their ambitions of defending their title at the Sam Boyd Stadium.
“We said it before the tournament two teams that can beat anybody on the day especially Canada, they showed that they can win tournaments as well.
“We always knew it was going to be a physical one as well and sometimes you going to have to fight in tournaments, it’s not going to come easy,” Powell said at the conclusion of the first day.
The Blitzboks still have to face England in their final pool match and Powell has asked his charges to make that step up in performance and ensure a clean sweep in their pool.
“It is that mental toughness, the brotherhood and wanting to fight for the system, the badge and the guys with you on that field. It is not always going to be perfect, sometimes you are going to have to get stuck in and grind out a win and that is what the guys did in both the games.
“There was always glimpses of what this team could be in defence and attack. If we can just build on that performance and keep on making that step up especially against England, they look like a team that’s on form,” added Powell.
“It’s never about the results for us and obviously we want to top our pool but it is about the way the guys played especially the second game, a lot more effort and a lot more physical at the contact areas.
“So happy in that regard, if we can make another step up with one more game to go to achieve our goal in the pool stages. It’s going to be a tough old game against England like always.”
Blitzboks star Werner Kok has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after suffering a blow to the head with reserve Ruhan Nel taking his place.
“Always tough when you lose a quality player like Werner, but happy that we could get Ruhan in,” said Powell.