Buoyed by overwhelming support from their South African fans, the Blitzboks are putting their disappointing loss to Fiji in the final of the Sydney Sevens on Sunday firmly behind them to look ahead to their next challenge.
You guys made us proud— Maryna Potgieter (@PotgieterMaryna) February 3, 2020
The Blitzboks are now second on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log behind New Zealand, having managed to climb back up the leaderboard after another disappointing performance in Hamilton two weeks ago.
They went on to take second place in the final, having lost 12-10 to Fiji, but knowing the Blitzboks they will fully apply themselves to capitalise on all their mistakes going forward.
The next tournament of the World Series will be played in Los Angeles from February 29 to March 1, followed by Vancouver a week later.
“We will be going into the next tournament with some confidence and momentum and that is a good thing.”Blitzboks coach Neil Powell
France (56), who had started the weekend in joint-second spot with South Africa, have now dropped to third, followed by England (54), Fiji (53) and the US (47).
The final was played in a downpour at the Bankwest Stadium and this resulted in a tight affair which saw Fiji scoring twice in the first half. After Fiji scored an early converted try, JC Pretorius responded to cut the lead to just two points.
Fiji extended the lead with a well-worked move from a line-out to lead 12-5 at the break.
Zain Davids scored out wide late in the second half, but that still left the Blitzboks two points short and, hard as they tried, the final scoring act just did not come and Fiji could celebrate.
Earlier on Sunday, South Africa had qualified for the final by beating the US 19-12 and dominating Samoa 32-0.
Though they narrowly lost the final, the Blitzboks’ performance was a huge improvement from the previous weekend and coach Powell expressed his satisfaction with their overall effort, though the final result did hurt.
“That one hurts a bit, because we did not sustain the excellent form we displayed in the first four matches of the tournament. We had some basics letting us down in the final and that was disappointing. We paid the price, unfortunately.”Neil Powell
Powell paid credit to Fiji: “I thought we had control of the match till the end, but Fiji exploited our mistakes and they won. Our guys really deserve credit though with their effort this week.
“The final will be a negative, but there are so many positives for us from this weekend,” the coach pointed out.
Blitzboks captain Stedman Gans said the mistakes from the final would be remembered.
The Blitzboks returned to their home base in Stellenbosch on Monday evening and will no doubt already have shifted their focus to their next campaign.