South Africa Beat Olympic Champions To Take Gold At The Dubai Sevens
South Africa claimed top prize at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens after they beat last season's series champions and Olympic gold medallists, Fiji, 26-14.
The Blitzboks, who impressed over the two days, scored early tries from Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez to put them into an early lead, however Fijian captain Osea Kolinisau fired back to make it 14-7 at half-time.
Straight from the restart, Jerry Tuwai touched down under the posts, with the conversion levelling matters at 14-14, but shortly afterwards HSBC player of the final Chris Dry edged South Africa ahead. That score gave his team the momentum and it was a final try from Seabelo Senatla that sealed the match, bringing his tally to 11 tries for the tournament.
Speaking afterwards, captain Philip Snyman said: "We just needed to stick to our game plan and structure and that's exactly what the guys did. We never let Fiji into the game and then they were playing catch-up rugby, which i think worked to our advantage.
"We can be positive going into our home tournament next weekend in Cape Town, but we need to start all over again and fix a few things that went wrong. We need to recover well over the next few days."
Meanwhile, England and Wales faced off in the battle for bronze in Dubai. Speedster Dan Norton scored a remarkable four tries while Richard de Carpentier and Charlie Hayter also got on the scoreboard to complete both a 33-10 win and a positive weekend for the English.
Australia finished the day in fifth place while USA raised the men’s Challenge Trophy with a 28-14 win over Samoa, with Perry Baker’s beautiful first half chip-and-chase try raising the noise even further at 7he Sevens Stadium on Saturday.
Fiji and England had the crowd on their feet for much of this encounter, with a thrilling first half that saw tries from England’s Ruaridh McConnochie and Dan Norton, while Setareki Bituniyata and Samisoni Viriviri touched down for Fiji.
However, despite England’s hard work around the park, the Olympic champions hit back with a devastating second-half display with tries from Waisea Nacuqu and Masivesi Dakuwaqa helping to seal a 31-12 win and a spot in the final.
While Wales will be happy with a semi-final appearance in the first round of the series, they won’t be best pleased with their semi-final performance. Starved of possession in the first-half, they could only watch as the unstoppable Seabalo Senatla scored a first-half hat-trick. Werner Kok and Justin Geduld added to the tally, with Ethan Davies scoring Wales' only try, as it finished 36-5 to South Africa.
The first quarter-final on Saturday saw France face a Fiji team that went unbeaten on day one and while France tried, they were no match for a team that can offload from any position.
Sevuloni Mocenacagi’s try early in the second half was an example of sevens at it's very best as the game finished 40-5, with Sascha Valleau getting the only try for France.
The clash of England and Scotland in the second quarter-final lived up to the hype. A physical England got stuck into the Scots in the early stages, with Dan Bibby and Dan Norton combining very well for their second try of the match.
But true to form, Scotland mounted a fightback that left the game poised at 21-19 in their favour, after England’s Tom Mitchell scored with just seconds left. With the clock in the red, Scotland were awarded a penalty but, with a new law that means teams must form a lineout if they kick directly to touch from a penalty awarded in overtime, the Scots were forced to halt celebrations. Scotland lost the resulting lineout and England punished them when Ruaridh McConnochie scored in the corner to give England a 24-21 win and a spot in the semis.
Australia and Wales picked up where the previous sides left off, delivering another classic for the crowd in the Dubai desert. Two second-half tries, one at the start and one at the end of the match, from Morgan Williams sealed a fantastic victory for Wales over Australia, 21-12.
The last quarter-final promised much but delivered little from a New Zealand point of view, as they went down 40-0 to the Blitzboks. Cecil Afrika cut through the Kiwi defence for the opening score before Seabalo Senatla touched down for his seventh try in Dubai. Kyle Brown, Chris Dry, Justin Geduld and Werner Kok also scored during the emphatic victory.
The second round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series moves to Cape Town this weekend where the home side will run out on top of the standings.