The Springbok Sevens team might have scored a perfect three out of three at the Cape Town Sevens on Saturday, but Ruhan Nel wants to make up for the “lost opportunities” that were left on the pitch of the Cape Town Stadium.
The Blitzboks – who are the defending World Sevens Series champions – beat Russia, France and a tough Kenya side in Saturday’s proceedings to secure their quarter-final spot against Fiji on Sunday.
After winning the Dubai leg last week, the Blitzboks were the obvious favourites going into the second leg this weekend.
And of course, the fact that they gained some good momentum in Dubai and knowing that the Roses beat them to the gold goods on home turf last year should certainly have been motivation enough to go into the second leg very determined.
The South Africans easily shrugged the Russian dust off their shoulders to secure a 40-5 triumph in their first fixture on Day One, while they beat the French 31-5 in the second.
Things got a little bit tougher against fellow Africans, Kenya, however, and before they could celebrate a 26-7 win, the Blitzboks had to overcome a lot of fight from the Kenyans first.
And Nel – who scored a stunning try against France earlier in the day, said that they are expecting another physical onslaught in their quarter-final date (Sunday 12.04pm).
“Just like Kenya, Fiji are also very physical, but they like to throw the ball around as well. They always make us work for our points. So we’ll definitely be up for it come tomorrow afternoon,” Nel said.
“Kenya is always physical, we’ve played them a couple of times last season.
“Whenever we play them, we know they’re going to come for us at ruck time, they’re not a very expansive team, they do come direct, so to play them on the last game of day one really takes a lot of effort.
“They’re always a very tough team, so much credit to them.
“We always want to finish at the top of our pool so we’re happy with that, but there’s a couple of things that we’d like to correct. There were a couple of lost opportunities out there, so we’ll look to fix that come tomorrow afternoon.”
Nel also had a few kind words for the lively crowd in Cape Town.
“It’s always special playing in Cape Town, and to have a crowd of 55 000 behind you always makes it just so much more special.”
In their second fixture on day one, Springbok Sevens superstar Seabelo Senatla reached two personal milestones to make their title-chase even more special.
The 24-year-old played in his 35th World Sevens Series tournament, and in their second fixture of the day against France, he also scored his 200th World Sevens Series try to become only the fifth player in history to do so.
And both of those moments the speedster could only describe as “surreal”.
“To play in your 35th (tournament) and to get your 200th try is pretty special, it’s actually surreal. As a player you don’t get much of those, so it’s one for the books I think.”
“Everything is extra special – playing in my 35th at home and getting the 200th (try), and everything that’s happening now. It’s the cherry on the cake. It’s nice to eat the cake, but that cherry is just so much sweeter.”
“It’s great to be involved in team where personal accolades don’t mean that much…they mean something, but they don’t count that much, it’s the team ones we’re looking for. And that’s what we need to do in Cape Town. So for me it’s all about putting my head down and grinding.”
Blitzbok coach Neil Powell added: “We only conceded three tries today, which was good, and our defensive structures stood up well, especially against Kenya.
“There was the odd missed tackle by an individual, but overall I am pleased with the way we defended. We have a couple of things to work on, but to be fair to the guys, it was quite physical out there.”
Cape Town Sevens Cup quarter-finals
12.04pm: South Africa v Fiji
12.26pm: England v New Zealand
12.48pm: Canada v France
13.10pm: United States v Argentina