Blitzboks put Dubai behind them and focus on Cape Town
The Blitzboks took some time out of training on Tuesday to play a game of football‚ which showed some surprisingly good round ball skills although finishing‚ just like it was with an oval ball in Dubai last week‚ was lacking.
By the admission of several key players such as Rosko Specman‚ Werner Kok and Branco du Preez‚ the Blitzboks were under par last weekend when they finished sixth in the Emirates.
But they have also moved on from their disappointing display as they focus on trying to win the Cape Town leg of the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series.
It would put them immediately back on track in terms of the overall title.
The Blitzboks’ lineout and attack session at Bishops in Cape Town looked sharp and focused but according to Kok‚ it will be Thursday’s defence session that really matters.
The Blitzboks were uncharacteristically porous on defence in Dubai and it’s something they will have to sharpen with Pool games against Samoa‚ Zimbabwe and New Zealand to come.
Last week their ability to pressurise ball carriers‚ dominate the breakdown and win turnovers to launch counter-attacks was largely absent in Dubai.
They missed 55 tackles in six matches in Dubai‚ which is simply way below their own high standards.
“We have to get our system into place. We saw it coming together in the last two games in Dubai (against Scotland‚ which they won 29-0 and Fiji which they lost 24-19)‚” Kok said.
“The one-on-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 in the training session on Thursday. 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.
“The first four games in Dubai were not up to standard and although we lost (in extra time) against Fiji‚ we did a lot right.
“We’ve had this week to build on that and we have been talking about being patient and using the opportunities we created.
“We battled to get enough possession‚ especially against England and made a lot of dumb decisions‚ which gave the ball to the opposition. We have to look after the ball better.”
The Blitzboks have not won in Cape Town for two years but Kok believes that only serves to focus their minds this weekend‚ especially after falling 10 log points behind Dubai winners NZ at this early stage of the campaign.
“We need to do well in Cape Town and the support we get here will be key. We need the whole country behind us‚” Kok said.