Neil Powell says it hurt after his team lost the final of the Sydney Sevens. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
Neil Powell says it hurt after his team lost the final of the Sydney Sevens. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Powell: Losing Sydney final hurts

By mike greenaway Time of article published Feb 3, 2020

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The Blitzboks resoundingly bounced back from their 10th position finish at the Hamilton Sevens to secure a silver medal at the Sydney Sevens yesterday, narrowly losing 12-10 to Fiji in a tense final.

In the process, the South Africans have closed the gap on New Zealand on the World Sevens Series standings and consolidated second spot.

The Kiwis are still top of the log with 76 points after four tournaments, with SA nine points behind on 67. France (56), who started the weekend in joint-second spot with SA, dropped to third, followed by England (54), Fiji (53) and the USA (47).

The final was played in heavy rain, and it resulted in a tight affair which saw Fiji scoring twice in the first half. After Fiji scored an early converted try, JC Pretorius responded to cut the lead to just two points. Fiji extended the lead with a well-worked move from a line-out to lead 12-5 at the break.

Zain Davids scored out wide late in the second half, but that still left the Blitzboks two points short and hard as they tried, the final scoring act did not come, and Fiji could celebrate.

Earlier in the day, SA qualified for the final by beating the USA 19-12 and dominating Samoa 32-0. The performance of the Blitzboks proved a huge improvement from the previous weekend, and coach Neil Powell expressed his satisfaction with the overall effort, but said the result in the final hurt.

“That one hurts a bit, because we did not sustain the excellent form we displayed in the first four matches of the tournament. We had some basics letting us down in the final and that was disappointing. We paid the price, unfortunately,” Powell said.

“I thought we had control of the match till the end, but Fiji exploited our mistakes and they won. Our guys really deserve credit with their effort this week. The final was a negative, but there are so many positives for us from this weekend.

“We will be going into the next tournament with some confidence and momentum, and that is a good thing.”

Blitzbok captain, Stedman Gans, said the mistakes in the final will be remembered.

“We improved a lot from Hamilton. The final was a let-down, though, and we will have to look at ourselves again, because we lost due to our mistakes. As a squad, we are improving and I think we are on the up, which is a good thing.”

Mike Greenaway

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