Hosts see chance to upset new-look NZ
Blitzboks on focus defence before vital clash
South Africa’s Blitzboks say they are not looking ahead to the game with New Zealand, scheduled for the end of today’s HSBC World Sevens Series play in Cape Town, but it has been occupying all the space in their media.
With New Zealand having to reshape its team as a result of injuries before and during the opening Dubai tournament last weekend, the hosts sense a chance to improve on their sixth placing.
South African speedster Siviwe Soyizwape said, “It is important that we do well against Zimbabwe and Samoa so that we can be confident going into the game against New Zealand. It does help that we played both teams in Dubai, so we have some idea on how they play.
“For us it will be a case of focusing more on ourselves and getting that momentum that we need to take into the big games.”
Teammate Werner Kok said the side needed to improve defensively.
“We have to get our system into place,” he said. “We saw it coming together in the last two games of the [Dubai] tournament. The oneon-one tackles were a lot better. There are some positives that we can take out of those games.
“Defence is certainly something we will be looking at closely. We made some poor decisions and conceded turnovers. We also made too many high tackles that led to penalties and opportunities to the opposition.
“We have to go in lower with our tackles this weekend. Overall, the defensive line needs to be better and we have to work harder to get the ball back,” Kok said.
Their tackle completion rate in Dubai was only 64 per cent and they missed 55 tackles during the weekend. On top of overcoming that area there was a need to be more clinical in their own attack.
“Patience is a big work-on after last week. There were a lot of opportunities that we didn’t take in Dubai. We have to translate those chances into points,” he said.
Cecil Afrika won’t be playing for the side, as he has been suffering a hamstring injury, and it is expected to be the Hamilton and Sydney tournaments in January before he makes his first appearance for the side.
However, he thinks South Africa will be a different prospect at home over the weekend.
“Obviously, we made a lot of errors, fundamental errors, basic stuff, but I think if we can rectify those mistakes, we will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend,” he said.
Rather than reflecting on the disappointments of Dubai, Afrika said they should take something out of the fact they created many scoring opportunities at the tournament.
“I think they would have been talking about just cutting down those errors, getting their basics right and building a good foundation come their first game against Samoa today.
“Then we will just have to build from there. There were a couple of opportunities where we could have scored last weekend and we need to take those opportunities this weekend and make use of them fully,” he said.
The All Blacks Sevens have a target on their backs heading into Cape Town.