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PREVIEW: Los Angeles SVNS

ROUND FIVE: It is a new week and a new opportunity for the Springbok Sevens this weekend in the fifth tournament of the 2024 season and for BlitzBok head coach Sandile Ngcobo, the HSBC SVNS Los Angeles cannot come soon enough.

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Despite a less-than-satisfactory performance in Vancouver last weekend where the team finished in ninth place, Ngcobo said they are embracing the challenge of their Pool A fixtures this weekend against series leaders Argentina, Ireland and Spain.

“We finished strong in Vancouver with good wins over Canada and Australia and we want that momentum to carry us into the match against Ireland on Friday [Los Angeles time],” said Ngcobo.

“We want to use the positive energy in our training session today [Wednesday] and for the players to remain on their toes.”

Despite losing by 10-22 to Ireland in Vancouver last weekend, the BlitzBok coach believes that result can be reversed: “Their restarts and play from there was very good, so we need to sharpen up in that area and look after our ball better. We have more attacking threats than they have, so when we have the ball, we need to use that.”

The BlitzBoks won the tournament in Dubai in the season’s opener by outplaying Argentina in the Final, but since then, the South Americans have gone from strength to strength, winning the tournaments in Cape Town, Perth and Vancouver.

In their last match against the BlitzBoks, in Perth, Argentina came out on top, but Ngcobo is excited for the rematch on Saturday.

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“We love playing Argentina, they are a class outfit at the moment, but so are we,” he said. “The last time we played them in Perth, they actually got the better of us when we gave our ball away, so we lost against ourselves in that one.”

Ngcobo believes the match against Spain will be a mental battle for his squad.

“From a mental point of view the players need to understand that all matches will be very competitive, you need to be as sharp when you play Spain as you need to be when playing New Zealand, Argentina or Ireland,” he said.

“We have seen what we can do when we play well, but also what happens when we are inconsistent in our performances and don’t get the detail right.

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“Our focus is topping the pool. We are good enough to win tournaments, I honestly believe that.

“Bar one or two injured players back home, this is our best team, and they are capable of winning tournaments. We just need to be mentally sharp for six games over three days and the results will be the reward.”

Schedule
(Kick-off is local time – GMT minus eight hours)

Friday, March 1:

Men:
Fiji v Great Britain – 18.54
France v Canada -19.16
Ireland v South Africa – 19.38
Argentina v Spain – 20.00
New Zealand v Australia – 20.22
USA v Samoa – 20.44

Women:
Australia v Ireland – 16.30
France v Japan – 16.52
Fiji v Brazil – 17.14
New Zealand v South Africa – 17.36
Canada v Great Britain – 17.58
USA v Spain – 18.20

Saturday, March 2:

Men:
Fiji v Canada – 09.30
France v Great Britain – 09.52
Ireland v Spain – 10.14
Argentina v South Africa – 1036
New Zealand v Samoa – 10.58
USA v Australia – 11.20
Great Britain v Canada – 14.00
France v Fiji – 14.22
South Africa v Spain – 14.44
Argentina v Ireland – 15.06
Samoa v Australia – 15.28
New Zealand v USA – 15.50

Women:
Australia v Japan – 11.42
France v Ireland – 12.04
Fiji v South Africa – 12.26
New Zealand v Brazil – 12.48
Canada v Spain – 13.10
USA v Great Britain – 13.32
Ireland v Japan – 16.18
France v Australia – 16.40
Brazil v South Africa – 17.02
New Zealand v Fiji – 17.24
Spain v Great Britain – 17.46
Canada v USA – 18.08

*The play-offs start at 18.30 (local time) on Saturday)

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