Proud Neil Powell says Blitzboks stayed focussed in the face of crippling injury crisis
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Durban - The Springbok Sevens team had to dig deep to come from behind and defeat Australia in the final of the Dubai 7s on Saturday and coach Neil Powell and captain Siviwe Soyizwapi have praised the team for the character they displayed.
Two minutes from time, it was the impressive JC Pretorius who slipped through the tight Aussie defence to score and win the game10-7, handing South Africa back-to-back Dubai tournament victories at their favourite desert hunting ground.
They also achieved a rare feat of three Dubai tournament wins in a row.
“It was a week full of challenges, dealing with the injuries of Muller du Plessis and Ryan Oosthuizen,” said Powell.
“The plan was to bring in Dewald Human and Angelo Davids as replacements, but unfortunately we couldn’t do that before the borders were closed for international flights.”
The injuries meant the Blitzboks had only 11 fit players, so some of the coaching staff (including Powell) had to jump in to make it two squads of seven players at training.
The Blitzbok coach was immensely proud of his players’ efforts on what was a tough day at the office, with late tries needed for victory in both the semi-final and the final.
“Credit must go the boys for staying focused and doing what needed to be done, because you never know what might happen with regards to the next tournaments,” said Powell.
Soyizwapi, who was in superb form, was equally impressed with the resilience of the team: “Credit to Australia for a great game, but so I’m proud of our boys for the effort they put in.
“We looked back and said this is the reward of all those breakdown and wrestling sessions in the heat in Stellenbosch. Character is everything when you put on this jersey and that’s what we stand for as a team,” added the captain.
South Africa stretched their impressive winning run to 24 matches on their way to a ninth overall title success in Dubai, and a fourth successive World Rugby Sevens Series tournament crown after bringing home two gold medals from their Canadian trip in September.
The South Africans are leading the Series standings on 44 points, 10 points clear of second-placed Argentina (34), while Australia increased their tally to 32.