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Sport24.co.za | Powell: Blitzboks weren’t good enough, dropped standards

Cape Town – 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.
Muller du Plessis scored the only try of the first half, but Pretorius and
Cecil Afrika edged them further ahead before Angelo Davids confirmed the result
with two late tries. 

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. 

“Kenya is always a tough one, they make it an African derby
and come hard at us. It is going to be a physical match, no doubt, so we need
to pitch up tomorrow if we want to get the results.” 

The match against Kenya starts at 01:13 (SA time) on Sunday
morning. 

– SA Rugby media

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