That was the blunt assessment of Blitzbok head coach, Sandile Ngcobo, after his side lost their fifth-place playoff to New Zealand and finished a disappointing second day at the HSBC SVNS Cape Town with two defeats.

“Possession was key, and we simply did not look well enough after ours,” said Ngcobo. “We were attacked at the breakdown, and we need to muscle up in that area, as we lost too many balls there.”

Despite the results in Cape Town, Ngcobo believes the overall assessment of his team over the first two tournaments of the HSBC SVNS is positive: “We showed we can put any team away over the last two weeks and that was something we tried to work towards in our pre-season. Yes, today was not a great day, but we will have a good look at why and then make the necessary adaptions.”

On the Blitzboks’ defeats to Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, Ngcobo pointed to the competitive nature of the new format of HSBC SVNS.

“It is very competitive and every match counts,” he said.

“We saw again this weekend how teams who were off the pace last week came good here and vice versa. Canada, who finished 12th, showed they can beat anyone for example. This is going to be a very tough series to win.”

Ngcobo indicated that the team will take a short break and return to camp early in January to start preparations for the next event in Perth.

“We will have a look at who is returning from injury and what the individual performances in Dubai and Cape Town contributed or not to the way we played," he said.

“We did not suffer any serious injuries over the last two weekends and that bodes well to start with a strong squad next year.”

Earlier on Sunday, the Blitzboks suffered a quarter-final defeat to Australia before New Zealand also outplayed the hosts for fifth place.