News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
25 Jan 2020
1:49 pm

Blitzboks in trouble waters in New Zealand

News24 Wire

The new format comes back to bite Neil Powell's men after a crucial loss to England.

Stedman Gans on the run. Photo: David van der Sandt.

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell has given a frank assessment if his side’s crucial loss to England at the Hamilton Sevens on Saturday.

The Springbok Sevens team crucially lost 21-19 and pending the final Pool B matches on Sunday, could miss out of the semi-finals at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton.

The Blitzboks, who earlier beat Japan 31-5 in their opening game, now must bank on the Japanese to topple England and then beat Kenya in their final pool match on Sunday in order to advance to the top four as the tournament is played in a new format where only pool winners advance to the semi-finals.

England came back from 14-0 down to take a 21-14 lead with two minutes to play.

A late Justin Geduld try gave the Blitzboks a chance, but Geduld pulled his conversion wide, which left the South Africans short.

“We were not good enough, especially in the second part of the game. We had some control in the first five minutes, but after that we dropped our standards,” said Powell.

“We made basic mistakes and a lot of them. We lost to ourselves as much as to England out there. We only have ourselves to blame for giving away the momentum and control and not being able to get it back again.”

The Blitzboks started well, with tries by Stedman Gans and JC Pretorius putting them in the lead.

Gans ran a strong line from a scrum and Pretorius sold the England defence a delightful dummy to add to the score.

The English came back with a long-range try by the speedy Dan Norton just before the break after a defensive lapse by the Blitzboks.

“That was bad yes, we cannot allow our opponents to score tries like that,” said Powell.

“We need to go back and have a hard look at ourselves on why that happened. It is not on if they run right through us from a lineout.”

The second half saw more dominance from the England side.

They scored shortly after the restart to draw level and then got their third with two minutes to play.

Geduld turned hero and villain and time ran out for the Blitzboks.

Against Japan, the Blitzboks took a while to get going.

Powell said the Blitzboks now face the reality of the format: “We can’t complain. It will be the same at the Olympics later this year. We knew what the format was, so we only have ourselves to blame.”

He was expecting a tough match against Kenya early on Sunday morning (SA time). The East African side lost to England and drew with Japan on Saturday.

“We still have a slight change yes, but if not, there is still a lot to play for,” said Powell.

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