Rugby 4.2.2018 02:15 pm

Blitzboks paper over injury cracks well in bridesmaid finish

Paula Dranisinukula of Fiji makes a break during the Cup final match between Fiji and the Blitzboks during the 2018 New Zealand Sevens at FMG Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Hamilton, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Paula Dranisinukula of Fiji makes a break during the Cup final match between Fiji and the Blitzboks during the 2018 New Zealand Sevens at FMG Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Another week, another loss in a final but Neil Powell’s troops remain very consistent despite a mini injury crisis.

The Springbok Sevens team strengthened their lead in the World Rugby Sevens Series in Hamilton on Sunday with yet another top two finish at the NZ Sevens.

The Blitzboks were beaten 17-24 by Fiji in the final, but they now lead the World Series after four tournaments and are eight points clear.

The  lead they’ve built is a good reflection of the consistency showed by the squad rocked by injuries over the last two weeks.

They lost their captain, Philip Snyman, and senior player, Ruhan Nel, to injury after the Sydney Sevens and then Dylan Sage after Day One of the inaugural Hamilton event due to concussion.

They also faced Fiji without the services of the injured Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman, and had to play the final with only ten fit players.

Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was disappointed in the result of the final, but overall it was a good trip for the team and he is proud of their effort.

“That is sevens for you. We had an opportunity to score and did not, they countered and scored and then got the momentum. One or two moments like that and the game is gone,” the coach explained.

“It was a very good and gutsy performance by the team. We fought until the last minute, I cannot ask for more. We had a tough week, but the guys really stuck to their guns.”

Powell elaborated on their long-term strategy.

“We are also managing our players, as we have a big season in 2018. The decision not to risk Justin and Rosko in the final was because of the bigger picture. They need to be 100% come Las Vegas, as we are losing four players back to fifteens now. Same with Philip and Rohan, who is already doing recovery after being send back from Sydney.”

Powell is not complaining about extending their overall lead either.

“If we won both finals we played on tour, that would have been ideal, but we increased our lead and that was important for us.”

Seabelo Senatla, who scored eight tries at the tournament, said the players are pleased with the weekend’s effort, despite the defeat in the final.

“It was tough with only ten players as our bench is important to bring new energy into the team, but we did well under the circumstances and I think we played better than was the case in last weekend’s final in Sydney.”

Senatla applauded the consistency in the effort of the team.

“Of course you want to reach finals and win them, like we did last year in New Zealand and Australia, but reaching both finals showed some consistency in our effort and that is something that we are also looking to maintain.”

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