Blitzboks must raise their game to face Kiwis clash at HSBC World Sevens Series
The Blitzboks will face archrivals New Zealand in Pool A on home soil at the Cape Town leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series this weekend.
The two sides were paired together after New Zealand won the season-opening tournament in Dubai, while SA slumped to sixth place — their worst start to a campaign in five years.
The Blitzboks lost 22-5 to England in the Dubai quarterfinals after topping Pool A despite losing 15-12 to Argentina in group play.
New Zealand were superb all weekend in the Emirate and will start in Cape Town as favourites in a Pool that includes Samoa and Zimbabwe.
New Zealand are also the reigning Cape Town champions.
Despite the poor showing in DUbai‚ which ended in a 24-19 defeat against Fiji in the fifth/sixth play-off‚ Blitzbok coach Neil Powell felt his side had gathered some momentum during the weekend.
“The fact that we did not play any tournaments before the start of the World Series may have impacted on our performances here in Dubai‚” Powell said.
“We managed to control matches for longer spells as the tournament progressed and I am happy with that.”
The team is without several stalwarts such as Seabelo Senatla‚ Cecil Afrika‚ Kwagga Smith‚ Ruhan Nel and Dylan Sage‚ and the absence of those big game players showed in Dubai.
“The reality is that we are in a bit of a rebuilding phase‚ with a number of experienced guys who have moved on‚ so it will take a bit of time to be at our very best again‚” said Powell.
“I am pleased that we showed progress and we will take another step forward this coming weekend.”
The lack of execution of the basics was the most disappointing aspect of their performance‚ Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman said.
“We didn’t do the small things well‚” Snyman said.
“We were poor in those areas in the first four matches. Against Scotland and Fiji things went more according to plan‚ but overall we are disappointed.
“It was a reality check too; you cannot just rock up and expect things must happen for you. We lacked that focus‚ especially early on.