Defence lets Blitzboks down at Madrid Sevens

QUEWIN Nortjé was one of the try-scorers for the Blitzboks against Ireland yesterday. Photo: BackpagePix

QUEWIN Nortjé was one of the try-scorers for the Blitzboks against Ireland yesterday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 1, 2024


MISSED tackles at crucial moments in their opening Madrid SVNS clash cost the Blitzboks dearly yesterday.

If they want to reach the knockouts of the Grand Final, a better performance on defence is needed today.

There was nothing wrong with their attack as the Springbok Sevens scored three beautifully crafted tries, but after leading late in the second half, their agony on defence continued as Ireland scored two touchdowns – one of which came three minutes after the final hooter – to claim a comeback 26-21 win yesterday.

The loss was hardly the South Africans’ toughest physical challenge of the tournament as they will come up against arguably the two most abrasive teams – New Zealand (12.44pm SA time) and Fiji (3.49pm) - today in a bid to reach the quarter-finals.

A 70-metre try after Ireland’s Zac Ward broke through several defenders from his own half, and some over-commitment on the outside allowed Gavin Mullen to score after the Blitzboks led 21-7 shortly after half-time via tries by Tiaan Pretorius, Tristan Leyds and Quewin Nortjé.

Those two tries gave the Irish belief, and a long passage of play from inside their half led to Mullen’s second to clinch the win.

It wasn’t a lack of effort on defence, but just the fact that they did not complete tackles that let South Africa down.

They must be fierce but secure in the tackles to stop the big Fijian and Kiwi players today. If not, there will be no title at the season’s final tournament.

Elsewhere, the Springbok Women’s Sevens continued their good form of the season as they toppled Argentina 24-7 and Belgium 40-7 in their promotion-relegation matches in Madrid.

They have Brazil to topple today (1.51pm) and a quarter-final to win, and they will form part of the core series again next season.

Star player Nadine Roos was in fine form, and scored five tries and six conversions for a points haul of 37 in the first two matches. Her defensive work, alongside the rest of her teammates, was outstanding.

They ran Belgium ragged and will hope that kind of determination will be there today as well. The Brazilians will be their toughest group opponents, and it could be vital preparation for the quarter-finals.

According to Roos, they are looking forward to the Brazil clash.

“We had some very close matches this year so far, with one score the difference in the last two matches we played,” the speedster said.

“We take some good momentum into tomorrow (today), but will have to be at our very best to beat Brazil and finish top of the pool.”

Points scorers

South Africa 21 – Tries: Tiaan Pretorius, Tristan Leyds, Quewin Nortjé. Conversions: Selvyn Davids, Leyds (2)

Ireland 26 – Tries: Terry Kennedy, Zac Ward, Gavin Mullin (2). Conversions: Billy Dardis, Hugo Lennox (2)