Blitzboks go into the new year with optimism

Dewald Human of the South Africa and Taylor Haugh of New Zealand during day 2 of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens match 44, Bronze Medal Final match between South Africa vs New Zealand at Cape Town Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Dewald Human of the South Africa and Taylor Haugh of New Zealand during day 2 of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens match 44, Bronze Medal Final match between South Africa vs New Zealand at Cape Town Stadium on December 09, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

But it’s undeniable that a transitional season lays ahead with various rookies having to fill voids of experienced players.

Third place is better than sixth in any person’s book, which is why the Blitzboks were still cheery at the weekend despite failing again to scoop an elusive Cape Town Sevens title.

Neil Powell’s charges gained revenge for a pool match defeat to the All Blacks, claiming a gritty, ugly 10-5 win in the third place playoff.

However, it shouldn’t mask the fact that the South Africans were essentially running on empty and showed sheer determination more than anything else.

In fact, they only had 10 fit players available in their last game.

“We finished sixth in Dubai where we played poorly in our first four matches. We started picking up some momentum and I think we improved further this weekend,” said the Blitzboks coach.

But that doesn’t mean the team is anywhere near the standards they’ve set over the past two seasons.

“We let ourselves down at times, but we certainly finished in a much better state than last weekend. This is a good, positive way to finish the second leg of the series, with some momentum to take into the next leg in Hamilton.”

That leg only commences at the end of January.

Skipper Philip Snyman, one of the men who sat out after he injured his shoulder, agrees that the spirit shown by the more inexperienced members of the squad should put them in good stead.

With Rosko Specman having played his last tournament for the season, the Blitzboks are missing six regulars who have moved on to fifteens.

“We played until the very last second of the match, something I am very proud of,” said Snyman.

“Having conceded late tries against them last night and against Fiji earlier on Sunday in the Cup semi-final, the guys proved their determination not to do so again.”

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