Blitzboks coach Neil Powell lamented his side’s inability to finish off during their 7-5 semi-final loss to Great Britain at the Olympics. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
South Africa were one of the tournament favourites to win the gold medal, but were unceremoniously eliminated from the main event despite a spirited defensive effort. The Blitzboks scored first through captain Kyle Brown for an early 5-0 lead and had opportunities aplenty to extend that advantage, but failed to capitalise in the red zone.
They contained Great Britain’s attack well, but one defensive lapse saw Dan Norton pounce to score an equaliser that afforded Tom Mitchell the chance to nail what would prove to be the match-winning conversion.
Powel says they knew once they entered the business end of the tournament, it was going to be a dog fight, but that his team lost their way.
‘I’m very disappointed losing out on a chance to compete for a gold medal. That’s the knockout stages for you, you only get one or two opportunities and if you don’t use them you’ll lose the game,’ he said.
‘I can’t fault the effort of my players. It was a good defensive performance. It was definitely in our hands, but missed opportunities cost us the game. Unfortunately it wasn’t our time to be successful this time round.'
The Blitzboks will take on Japan in the bronze medal match (11:30pm SA time) and Powell says his charges will have to put the semi-final defeat behind them if they are to be victorious.
‘The guys have to pick themselves up because we still have a medal to play for. Japan are good side, who played good rugby over the last two days. We must be 100% for that game. They are not going to give us success on a platter, we need to go fight for it.’
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images