BlitzBokke to build on Dubai showing
BlitzBok coach Neil Powell says his team will look to build on their performance in Dubai in their home leg of the IRB Sevens World Series next weekend.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell says his team will look to build on their performance in the Dubai Sevens in their home leg of the IRB Sevens World Series in Port Elizabeth next weekend.
Despite a courageous fight back in the second half, which saw them scoring three tries, the BlitzBokke were outplayed by Fiji, who deservedly won their first Dubai Sevens title on Saturday evening. They beat South Africa 29-17 in an absorbing Final after leading 19-0 at half-time.
Fiji were the odds on crowd favourites to lift the cup they have never managed to win in 14 attempts after their thrilling 44-0 semifinal win over New Zealand.
However, they were made to work for their success, especially in the second half, when a depleted but determined South Africa simply refused to give up.
Injuries ruled out a trio of South African players - Frankie Horne, Stephan Dippenaar and Jamba Ulengo - and they were made to play for two minutes without Justin Geduld after he was yellow carded for a deliberate knock down of the ball when a rampant Fiji were on the attack.
Benito Masilevu scored twice and when Saiminosi Viriviri crossed for their third try, Fiji were able to go into half-time with a commanding 19-0 lead.
The Springbok Sevens, who won all their matches on their way to the Cup Final, made fewer errors in the second half and finally managed to string a few moves together.
They grew in confidence and this allowed Sampie Mastriet, Chris Dry and Cheslin Kolbe to cross the try-line.
Emosi Mulevoro scored Fiji’s fifth try to put the match out of reach of South Africa and in doing so capped a very successful weekend for the islanders.
Powell said Fiji deserved their victory: “Fiji were the better team and deserved to win. They started very positively, put us under huge pressure and really used their opportunities well.”
Powell added he was very pleased how his team responded in the second half: “We knew we had to score first after the restart, gain some momentum and to put them under pressure. We tried our best but they proved too strong in the end.
“I am very proud of the boys and now we are looking forward to build on this performance next week at home in Port Elizabeth,” said Powell.
The BlitzBokke confirmed that Dippenaar has been ruled out of next weekend’s tournament with a hamstring injury.
Dippenaar and Jamba Ulengo (foot injury) were ruled out of action on Saturday while Frankie Horne sustained a leg injury in the 26-12 semifinal victory over England.
Powell said a replacement for Dippenaar will join the squad in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. “We have players in mind but will announce that on Tuesday morning. Stephan and Jamba flew back to Cape Town already [on Sunday] where they will both see specialists.”
Powell indicated there is a possibility that Ulengo might still be able to play. “We believe Jamba has a 50/50 chance to play, but we will not take any chances.
“Frankie took a knock on his leg and we will see how he reacts to treatment before making any decision,” he added.
Fiji jumped to second place on the log and they now have 35 points, just four behind series leaders New Zealand (39), with South Africa (34) and England (32) within striking distance heading to Port Elizabeth.
South Africa and the 15 other international teams arrive in Port Elizabeth on Monday evening.