Defence was key to victory

2014-12-09 00:00

THE Springbok Sevens side have turned their season around after winning the Dubai Sevens this weekend.

Having finished fourth at the 2015 HSBC Sevens Series opener on the Gold Coast in Australia, Neil Powell’s charges pulled together a string of solid wins in the blistering heat of Dubai to get back on track in the series standings.

As it stands, South Africa are now second (37 points) behind leaders Fiji (39 points) while Australia (28 points) are third on the series standings.

After breezing through the Dubai pool stages beating Canada, Portugal and Wales, the Blitsbokke went from strength to strength in the playoff matches. They beat Argentina 40-0 in the quarter-final clash before meeting the dreaded New Zealand side in the semis.

So great was the Blitsbokke’s defence that the New Zealanders, who are renowned for their outstanding attacking play, could not find a reply for the South Africans’ four tries. The Blitsbokke progressed to the final beating the old enemy 28-0.

They then conceded the only try of the day in the cup final against Australia. The Australians’ score did little to help them as South Africa went on to win the match 33-7.

Blitsbokke captain Kyle Brown, who returned in Dubai after an injury layoff, praised his charges for their outstanding work on defence.

“The guys were incredible this week. Maybe we didn’t hit our full straps on Friday but Saturday was incredible. There was so much energy and attitude, particularly in the defensive line. I think that’s what defined us our character and energy on defence. We made it very difficult for teams to attack against us,” Brown said after the victory.

A number of youngsters also stepped up to the plate during the tournament. Seabelo Senatla was outstanding and Ruhan Nel played well but young Kwagga Smith’s hat-trick against New Zealand summed up the brilliant depth in the side.

“I really enjoyed the role of playing off the bench this weekend and its makes it a lot easier when you have capable guys like Kwagga. In that semi-final, to score a hat-trick in that first half — I could have sat back and watched the whole tournament,” Brown said.

The captain’s words ring true as fans were thoroughly entertained by a complete team performance throughout the tournament. The Blitsbokke’s depth was once again vital with the likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Warrick Gelant coming off the bench alongside Brown to keep up the team’s tempo.

Another standout was 21-year-old Werner Kok, who seems to be a star of the future after being named player of the tournament.

“I just think the way that we did, from the quarter to the final and the way we handled the matches and the way we played ranks pretty high up there — it’s one of our most clinical performances,” the captain said.

The next order of business is the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens this weekend in Port Elizabeth. Coach Powell is hoping his side will carry their performance into the third stop of the Sevens tour.

“It’s always nice to be back at home and play in front of your home crowd. Hopefully we can take this momentum into PE and be successful there as well,” Powell said.

The Blitsbokke have been drawn in Pool A alongside USA, Wales and Kenya for this weekend’s tournament.

“The guys were incredible this week. Maybe we didn’t hit our full straps on Friday but Saturday was incredible.”

Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Pools

Pool A

South Africa, Kenya, USA, Wales

Pool B

Australia, Argentina, Portugal, Zimbabwe

Pool C

Fiji, Scotland, France, Canada

Pool D

New Zealand, Samoa, England, Japan

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