Powell: Blitzbokke must improve

2014-03-22 15:41
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)

Tokyo - The Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell believes his team will need to do a lot better if they are to defend their Tokyo Sevens title this year, even though they ended day one unbeaten in Japan.

Powell wasn’t happy with the way his team performed, on a day where they needed to dig deep to beat Kenya and Argentina, and only really took control of the game against Japan from the beginning.

On day two the Blitzbokke will face tournament surprise package USA (kick off 4.34am, GMT+2, CAT) in their quarterfinal, and will need to have a better control of matters than they did on day one.

Powell wasn’t mincing his words when he said he wasn’t happy.

“I didn’t think we played well today, we gave away far too many penalties and our discipline was bad,” the Blitzbok coach explained and with good reason.

A yellow card in both the Kenya and Argentina game meant the Blitzbokke needed to come back from behind twice, and for at least half of both games the South Africans looked out of sorts.

Both in the Kenya and Argentina game they only managed to pull away midway in the second half, a far cry from their normal consistency under Powell.

In the Argentina game Powell did let a number of the reserves get a decent run, and it paid off, with Kwagga Smith scoring a brace and Steven Hunt adding his name to the scoresheet as they surged near the end for a quite comfortable victory.

Yet saying that, Powell does know that day two is the money day, and the day it counts the most.

The USA, who are under South African born coach Matt Hawkins, need a good result to ensure they stay as one of the eight core teams in the HSBC Sevens Series and will be up for the match.

While they did lose to France in their final game, they opened the day with a win over Samoa, shocking the South Sea Islanders and then followed it up by holding Fiji to a 19-all draw, showing they can compete with the best.

Add to that Canada getting a quarterfinal place again, as a non-core team, and the pressure certainly is on the Americans on day two.

In other results, New Zealand, Fiji and England all topped their groups to head to the quarters, with Samoa, Wales and Scotland not making the top eight this time around.

New Zealand will face Australia, Paul Treu’s Kenyan side have a date with Fiji while England face Canada in their quarterfinal.

Quarterfinal draw (CAT, GMT+2)

3.28am New Zealand v Australia
3.50am Fiji v Kenya
4.12am England v Canada
4.34am South Africa v USA

Semifinals are set for 7.08am and 7.30am respectively.

The final will take place at 9.43am.



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