Neil Powell: Blitzboks need to start all over for Cape Town Sevens quarter-final
CAPE TOWN – A lot better than Dubai, but the Blitzboks have to cut out the “silly mistakes” if they hope to win the Cape Town Sevens.
That was the verdict of coach Neil Powell on Saturday night after the South Africans just managed to top Pool A on points difference following a 26-21 defeat to New Zealand in the final game of day one at a pumping Cape Town Stadium.
The Blitzboks had a chance to knock the Kiwis out of the tournament in the final play of the game. With the scores locked at 21-21, captain Philip Snyman’s team had to collect the last kickoff and send the ball into touch for a draw, which would’ve resulted in Samoa ending second in the pool.
Instead, when Siviwe Soyizwapi went up for the kickoff, he was played in the air by New Zealand’s Dylan Collier, who knocked the South African’s arm as Soyizwapi caught the ball when lifted by Werner Kok.
But there was no penalty, with Australian referee Damon Murphy ruling that it was a knock-on by the Blitzboks, and Kiwis pounced via Jona Nareki, who got his offload away to Andrew Knewstubb.
The ball was then quickly recycled, where Vilimoni Koroi dived over on the left to clinch a tournament-saving victory for the visitors.
“We had opportunities. We lost two of our ball possessions in the 22 – the one just before halftime and the one just after halftime. And those are golden ball possessions that we would like to hang on to, and score from,” Powell said after the match.
“But also those two tries from the lineouts, that we should’ve been prepared for… But unfortunately, we couldn’t keep them out.
“The general feeling is just that we really worked hard for our tries, to get points on the board, and then we gave them such easy tries, like those two tries from the lineouts, that shouldn’t have been.
“If you compare it to day one in Dubai, it’s a lot better – a lot more effort, a lot better in how the players gelled together, and got momentum and rhythm.
“Just silly mistakes that cost us this last one against New Zealand, and (it is a) lesson that we need to learn, because if you go into the quarter-finals, you will only get one or two opportunities. If you don’t use any, you are going to be in trouble.”
But the goal of topping Pool A was still achieved by the Blitzboks, and now they’ll square off against Scotland in the first Cup quarter-final on Sunday at 12.04pm.
Powell will hope that his charges can become tighter in defence and more ruthless on attack, having seen off Samoa 22-12 and Zimbabwe 43-0 earlier on Saturday.
“Scotland are always one of those teams that really make you work hard in defence. And the fact that we’ve beaten them convincingly last weekend is going to count for nothing,” the coach said.
“We need to start all over, and we need to make sure that we are up for that game. They are a good side and play a good brand of sevens. And if you, defensively, are not going to be on your game, they are going to punish you for it.”
Blitzboks 21 – Tries: Rosko Specman, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez. Conversions: Justin Geduld (3).
New Zealand 26 – Tries: Andrew Knewstubb, Sione Molia (2), Vilimoni Koroi. Conversions: Knewstubb (2), Koroi (1).
SA Day 1 Results
Beat Samoa 22-12, Beat Zimbabwe 43-0, Lost to New Zealand 26-21
12.04pm: Blitzboks v Scotland, 12.26pm: Fiji v Spain, 12.48pm: Australia v New Zealand, 1.10pm: USA v England@ashfakmohamed