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All Blacks Sevens sucked SA into 'macho' game

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    12 Dec 2017     Getty Images

That was the South African analysis of New Zealand's 19-12 win over the Blitzbokke in their semi-final. New Zealand went on to beat Argentina in the final.
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New Zealand's explosive play on attack and big hits in defence had upset the South African rhythm resulting in the home side resorting to individual play.

South Africa coach Neil Powell told media after the tournament his side had played a helter-skelter type of game.

"They [the players] know we let ourselves down. I don't think we even put three phases together…it wasn't good enough," he said.

"We didn't have respect for the ball. We gave away possession too easily and kicked it away, where we should've just held onto the ball.

"We knew that if we could go through a few phases then the opportunities would come. But it was almost as if the guys didn't really understand.

"New Zealand didn't really outmuscle us at the rucks.

"We just gave away our possession unnecessarily by making mistakes and kicking the ball away. And if you play against a quality team like New Zealand they will punish you," he said.

South Africa were stressed at their usual strongpoints, defence and breakdowns, missing too many one-on-one tackles.

They failed to play to the prescribed plan, he said.

"I think Fiji [in their quarter-final] were more physical than New Zealand. They targeted us more at the breakdowns and tried to dominate us more in that area. So it was case of just hanging on to your ball.

"That was the message before the game. That was the message at halftime. Unfortunately we didn't respect the ball enough," he said.

"When you get to the knockout stages, in a semifinal or final, you only get one or two opportunities, and if you don't use those, you will find yourself [losing]."

That problem of missing tackles continued into the third and fourth playoff as they battled to get over Canada for a 19-17 win.

Captain Philip Snyman said, "It's the first time in many tournaments where I didn't feel that the guys played as a team…it was more about individuals.

"There was nothing wrong with the effort…but we make it hard for us as a team when we don't stick to the gameplan and the structure."