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REVEALED: Why BlunderBoks stumbled in Spain

REACTION: It was not the result they had hoped for, but the South African Sevens team will take away valuable lessons from Madrid this weekend, after they finished sixth in the HSBC SVNS Grand Finale in Spain.

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The BlitzBoks outplayed Australia in their first match on Sunday, but were pipped by Ireland in the fifth-place play-off and according to interim coach Philip Snyman, their lack of consistency was clear to see, adding that they mixed good and bad over the last three days.

“We are disappointed in winning only one of five matches – we worked hard and came close,” said Snyman.

“We were two seconds away from beating Ireland in the pool match, but conceded possession and they went on to score the winning points.

“Against New Zealand, we were ahead with 30 seconds to go, conceded possession and they went to score the winning points. So, it is close, but we are just not quite where we want or need to be.”

The BlitzBok coach highlighted their breakdown play and first time tackling as the main areas of improvement if they want to be successful in Monaco later this month in the winner-takes-all Olympic repechage tournament.

“We were shown up in those two areas in Madrid,” he said.

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“Teams have picked this up and are targeting us in those areas, so we need to focus on that in the next couple of weeks.”

Snyman is adamant that the season, which delivered one tournament win in Dubai and a seventh-place finish overall, can still be rescued with Olympic glory:

“We are getting there,” he said.

“It is frustrating that we undo five good things with three poor executions and losing games because of that.

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“The focus for Monaco will be those areas and to eliminate those errors from our game.”

Snyman said the time for learning is over.

“We must realise we have one more opportunity and if we stuff up in Monaco, that will be it. It is time for us to deliver.”

The BlitzBoks finished the Madrid tournament in sixth position after they beat Australia in their first game on Sunday, but then came up short against Ireland to finish the Spain tournament with a defeat.

After losing their three pool matches – against Ireland, New Zealand and Fiji – the BlitzBoks delivered their best performance of the weekend in the fifth-place semifinal against Australia on Sunday, winning by 24-21.

However, they could not replicate that in the fifth-place playoff against the Irish, who won a close contest by 12-7.

Against Australia, the BlitzBoks showed some great resilience to clinch their first victory of the weekend.

The Aussies opened the scoring with a try by Matthew Gonzalez, but two tries in quick succession – Rosko Specman, after Tristan Leyds hit a gap, and an intercept five-pointer from the restart by Ryan Oosthuizen – gave the BlitzBoks at 12-7 lead at the break.

Ben Dowling’s try put Australia back in the lead, but then Quewin Nortje underlined his promise with a superb solo-try as he hacked the ball ahead and outpaced the defence to score under the sticks.

Siviwe Soyizwapi scored the BlitzBoks’ fourth try to make it 24-14 with time running out, and although the Aussies clawed one back at the death, by James Turner, it was too little, too late.

Ireland controlled possession and set up camp in the BlitzBoks’ half in the first half of their playoff match.

Zac Ward scored Ireland’s first try in the opening half after he bust a BlitzBok tackle, and Harry McNulty’s try then made it 12-0 at the break.

The BlitzBoks made a step up after the break, and with their first scoring opportunity two minutes in, Siviwe Soyizwapi lost the ball over the tryline.

Impi Visser finally gave the BlitzBoks some hope with a try that started in their own 22 with less than two minutes to go, but that was it for the South Africans as Ireland won a late penalty and played out time to seal the win.

* Picture credit: @Blitzboks

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