CAPE TOWN – The Blitzboks had enough leaders on the field, and coach Neil Powell feels it was rather the defensive mistakes that cost them victory in the Cape Town Sevens semi-final against Fiji on Sunday.
The Springbok Sevens side went down 17-12 to the South Sea islanders that left an excited home crowd disappointed that their heroes weren’t going to contest the title decider at the Cape Town Stadium.
The South Africans had done well to claw their way back from a 12-5 halftime deficit when Rosko Specman dotted down in the second stanza.
Both teams had opportunities to seal victory, but just when it looked like the semi-final may go to extra time, Alosio Naduva darted over to break the Blitzboks’ hearts.
Captain Philip Snyman had to miss the semi-final with a rib injury, while Muller du Plessis also took a knock and could not feature.
Powell, though, didn’t blame Snyman’s absence for the defeat, with Kyle Brown having taken charge.
“We’ve got enough leaders in that group. Kyle is still a leader, Justin Geduld is one of our leaders, Werner Kok is a leader,” the Blitzboks mentor said afterwards.
“So, no excuses that we didn’t have enough leaders on the field. I think there were still enough leaders to pull us through in a semi like this.
“Defensively, we made mistakes. But that’s the game of sevens – you are never going to keep teams out for 14 minutes.
“They are always going to score tries and you are always going to make mistakes. That’s something we need to work on; it’s never going to be the perfect game.”
The South Africans made a good start when Siviwe Soyizwapi was put into space on the right in a well-worked move.
But Vilimoni Botitu hit back to level the scores, and Waisea Nacuqu burst through Werner Kok’s tackle to put Fiji 12-5 up.
“It’s one of those games where it could’ve gone any way. They had one opportunity, we had one opportunity in those last two minutes, and we couldn’t take our opportunities,” Powell said.
“So, in knockout stages, you are only going to get so many opportunities. I was frustrated last night, because we didn’t (do some things right), but I’m not disappointed now because it’s one of those games that could’ve gone any way.
“The guys did well. The kickoffs were brilliant – we took every single kickoff that they kicked on us, and we tried to get ball possession like that.”
The Blitzboks will face New Zealand in the third-place playoff at 7.18pm, while Fiji will take on USA in the Cup final after the Americans dispatched the Kiwis 31-12 in their semi-final.@ashfakmohamed