Powell pleased with HK performance
SEVENS REACTION: Blitzboks coach Neil Powell was more than pleased with the way his squad performed in Hong Kong, despite a 0-22 loss to Fiji in the Cup Final - a seventh Final in the World Sevens Series.
The Blitzboks have never won the Hong Kong Sevens and again failed at the last hurdle, but Powell was far from despondent.
"We did very well, considering the inexperience we had in our squad and the fact that we were without a number of star players. We did well over the three days and managed to play five good games, but unfortunately, we were just not good enough in the Final.
"Well done to Fiji, who deserved the win," Powell said.
The coach admitted that he was well aware of the tough pool and a possible quarterfinal clash with either Fiji or New Zealand, adding to the demanding schedule. The strong showing helped the Blitzboks keep a 23-point lead over closest rivals, Fiji and England.
"I was a bit nervous as the pool stage could have easily derailed us and the cross-over was tricky. Looking back now, we did excellently and I am content with what we achieved.
"That helped a lot for our confidence, but it is not something that we can feel at ease about. We need another strong performance in Singapore next weekend to keep the pressure on Fiji and England," he added.
Powell also aimed at giving more playing opportunities to younger players in the squad and due to the injuries in camp, had little option to do so in Hong Kong.
"It was one of the objectives we had pre-season and I am happy that we could do that. I wanted to give the younger guys more chances on the field and in match situations. They can do great things on the training field, but they only learn from mistakes they make while playing out there. So that was another boxed ticked for us," Powell stated.
Springbok Sevens player Werner Kok was named Player of the Tournament, but he was more pleased with the effort the team displayed by the squad.
"It is never about the individual, so the team deserve this as much as I do. We did not play our best in the Final, unfortunately, but we can be pleased with our overall effort. There is definite room for improvement and we will travel with a lot of focus to Singapore, where we can work hard to fix those," Kok said.
Kok is not worried that team will start looking at the overall log now.
"No, I don't think so. We still have a lot to do before we can think of winning the overall Series. We get another chance next weekend to rectify our mistakes and we will be back at it, working hard at that first training session in Singapore.
"They [the younger players] did well and will be better players after a tournament like this," he added.