The Springbok Sevens suffered a disappointing 21-14 defeat against England in the opening match of the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday and Blitzbokke coach Neil Powell afterwards admitted his frustrations with the South African effort. He says: ‘We knew England would be a tough nut on the last match of the day as they always have massive support. They came at us from the start and to be honest, we were caught napping. We are not happy with this start that is for sure.’ The South Africans were slow out of the blocks and conceded two early tries in the opening minutes of their pool B clash, with Phil Burgess and Dan Norton scoring off South African mistakes.
Burgess shrugged off a tackle and from the following restart, Norton capitalised when the South Africans missed the ball from the kick-off. This did spur the South Africans on, with Seabela Senatla scoring from wide out while England had a man in the bin. Senatla was yellow carded soon after though after impeding Norton and a penalty try was awarded as a result of transgression.
Again, the Blitzbokke dug deep with Philip Snyman scoring with a minute to go. However a lost line-out by the South Africans ruined their last chance on attack. The margins in the match showed how tight it was.
South Africa made 13 tackles (missed five) to England’s 11 (missed four), but the Blitzbokke made four errors and England only two. The two remaining pool B matches for South Africa on Saturday will be against Russia (07:54) and Scotland (11:54). Powell demanded a better effort and says a lot of energy will have to go into these matches: ‘We have to play well on day two. What happened against England is something of the past now, so we need to take the wrongs from that and make it right against Russia. We must hit the ground running early and the guys will have to show why they have been picked.’
The Springbok Sevens have played Russia 15 times, winning all with an average score of 35-5. They last played at the Sydney Sevens in February, where South Africa won 40-0. They have played Scotland 37 times, winning 33 with an average score between the sides of 26-10 in South Africa’s favour.
They did play against Scotland in the previous tournament in Vancouver, winning 43-0.