Coach Neil Powell was more than pleased with the way his squad performed in Hong Kong, despite a 22-0 loss to Fiji in the final of the tournament, the seventh in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Blitzboks have never won the HSBC/Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sevens and again failed at the last hurdle, but Powell was far from despondent.
“We did very well, considering the inexperience we had in our squad and the fact that we were without a number of star players,” Powell said.
“We did well over the three days and managed to play five good games, but unfortunately we were just not good enough in the final. Well done to Fiji, who deserved the win.”
The coach admitted that he was well aware of the tough pool and a possible quarterfinal clash with either Fiji or New Zealand, adding to the demanding schedule.
“I was a bit nervous as the pool stage could easily derailed us and the cross-over was tricky. Looking back now, we did excellent and I am content with what we achieved.”The strong showing helped the Blitzboks to keep a 23-point lead over closest rivals, Fiji and England.
“That helped a lot for our confidence, but it is not something that we can feel at ease about. We need another strong performance in Singapore next weekend to keep the pressure on Fiji and England.”
Powell also aimed at giving more playing opportunities to younger players in the squad during the series and due to the injuries in camp, had little option to do so in Hong Kong. “It was one of the objectives we had pre-season and I am happy that we could do that. I wanted to give the younger guys more chances on the field and in match situations. They can do great things on the training field, but they only learn from mistakes they make while playing out there. So that was another boxed ticked for us.”
Springbok Sevens player Werner Kok was named Player of the Tournament, but he was more pleased for the team effort displayed by the squad.
“It is never about the individual, so the team deserve this as much as I do,” he insisted.
He pointed to the fact that the team will be keen to improve on this performance.
“We did not play our best rugby in the final, unfortunately, but we can be pleased with our overall effort. There is definite room for improvement and we will travel with a lot of focus to Singapore, where we can work hard to fix those.”
Kok is not worried that team will start looking at the overall log now.
“No, I don’t think so. We still have a lot to do before we can think of winning the overall series. We get another chance next weekend to rectify our mistakes and we will be back at it, working hard at that first training session in Singapore.”
Kok was also pleased for the younger players in the squad. “They did well and will be better players after a tournament like this.”
Most points – Hong Kong:
Branco du Preez 28
Cecil Afrika 23
Most points – Season:
Seabelo Senatla 160
Branco du Preez 136
Cecil Afrika 104
Most tries – Season:
Seabelo Senatla 32
Werner Kok 19
Chris Dry 15
Siviwe Soyizwapi 15
Most tackles – Hong Kong:
Philip Snyman 18
Cecil Afrika 16
Most tackles Season:
Philip Snyman 119
Chris Dry 116
Werner Kok 104
Winning streak last 30 matches
- South Africa 26 wins out of 30 played
- Fiji 22/30
- England 22/30
- New Zealand 21/30
Pools for the HSBC Singapore Sevens (15-16 April)
A: Fiji, Canada, Russia, Hong Kong
B: South Africa, England, France, Japan
C: Australia, Argentina, Kenya, Samoa
D: USA, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales