Blitzboks in Vancouver quarters despite heavy defeat
The Blitzboks achieved their objective of emerging from a difficult Pool to secure a Cup quarterfinal berth at the HSBC World Sevens Series Vancouver‚ but not without suffering a heavy defeat.
The Blitzboks went down 33-14 to New Zealand in their final Pool match‚ but the result was academic by that stage‚ as both teams had already cemented the top two places in the group.
The Blitzboks will face Australia in the last eight‚ a repeat of last week in Las Vegas when SA won 29-17.
After beating Russia (38-5) and Scotland (21-0)‚ the Blitzboks were able to relax knowing that their main objective for day one had been achieved.
New Zealand and Fiji were the most impressive teams on day one and will face Argentina and the USA respectively in the last eight. The USA beat Argentina in the Las Vegas final last week.
“We were certainly outplayed in the physicality stakes against New Zealand‚ especially in that first half where they scored three unanswered tries‚” SA coach Neil Powell said.
“They dominated us at the breakdown and we hardly had the ball. But the nice thing about sevens is that you do get another chance the next day‚ so we will have to improve in that area.
"We also need to defend well if we want to make it into the final four.”
Against Russia‚ the Blitzboks were slow out of the blocks‚ but did score a handful of tries in the second half‚ including a first for his country for Muller du Plessis‚ playing in his second tournament.
The Blitzboks controlled the tempo against the Scots and struck when the opportunities came.
Three early tries by New Zealand had the Blitzboks in trouble and although they scored two tries after the break‚ they could not recover and had to concede top of the pool standings against the Kiwis‚ one of four teams that were undefeated after day one.
The others were Fiji‚ Australia and England.
Ruhan Nel did not play against New Zealand as he was rested.
“He had a bit of a tight hamstring‚ so we decided to give him a break. In all‚ I am happy that the whole squad had a good run on the first day‚” Powell said.