South Africa’s players celebrate with the trophy after they defeated New Zealand in the final of the Emirates Airline Rugby Sevens in Dubai on Saturday. Associated Press
Blitzbokke flyer Rosko Specman helped South Africa to a 15-0 victory over New Zealand on Saturday to win the opening leg of the World rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
The South Africans scraped past Argentina 12-5 in the quarter-finals before routing Samoa 38-7 in the semi-finals.
New Zealand had overcome the United States (26-5) and England (19-12) to set up the final.
“I’m so proud of the boys. We call ourselves a defence team and we are proud of that. That’s what the boys showed tonight,” the Blitzbokke’s Siviwe Soyizwapi said.
There was some comfort for New Zealand fans, however, as their women’s team, fired by standout Stacey Waaka, ran out 17-14 winners over Canada to retain their Dubai title.
The first Cup final meeting between the two nations since South Africa triumphed 24-12 in the desert back in 2017, looked to be heading for a scoreless first half after Chris Dry knocked on in the act of scoring and then Zain Davids was held up over the line.
However, from the resulting scrum, and with only two seconds left, South Africa swung the ball quickly left to create just enough space for captain Siviwe Soyizwapi to go over in the corner to earn some reward for the long spells they had spent in the All Blacks Sevens 22.
South Africa’s kick-off at the start of the second half was booted back with interest by Tim Mikkelson – playing in his 41st Cup final on the series – but Rosko Specman kicked and chased, forcing Kurt Baker to take the ball back over his line. From the resulting scrum, the Blitzboks kept possession and eventually worked Dry over on the left for a 10-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the final minute when Seabeloa Senatla scooped up the ball and sprinted away to wrap up a first victory over the All Blacks Sevens for almost a year.
HSBC Player of the Final Specman, like Senatla playing in his first series event since Cape Town last December, said: “The crowd in Dubai is amazing, they always come with the numbers whether it’s Fiji, New Zealand or South Africa and I’d like to say thank you to everyone – I hope we have made you guys proud this weekend.”
South Africa lead the standings after the first of 10 events in a season that culminates in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan with 22 points, ahead of New Zealand and bronze medallists England.
Will Muir proved to be England’s ‘super sub’ in the bronze final against Samoa, scoring a mere 14 seconds after coming onto the pitch to secure a 19-14 win in a entertaining match.
Earlier, Gayle Broughton’s try with little more than 20 seconds left of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2019 Cup final against Canada saw New Zealand become the first women’s team to go back-to-back at 7he Sevens Stadium.
The victory, backing up their 26-14 defeat of the same opponents in the 2018 title decider, has taken the defending champions to the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 standings, albeit only on points difference from Glendale winners US.
Stacey Waaka opened the scoring in the second minute, but Canada hit back quickly when the defence opened up in front of Karen Paquin and she charged 60 metres to score and give her side a 7-5 lead.
Canada continued to pile the pressure on New Zealand, forcing an error from the Black Ferns Sevens in their own half and after earning a couple of penalties metres from the line they worked the ball wide for Julia Greenshields to score, just as she had in last year’s final, for a 14-5 half-time lead.
HSBC Player of the Final Waaka scored her ninth try of the tournament early in the second half, sprinting away after Paquin had charged out of the defensive line to try and cut her off. Captain Tyla Nathan-Wong’s conversion cut the deficit to just two points.
The score remained 14-12 for four minutes with Canada on the verge of only their second ever victory over New Zealand in 20 series meetings – and first since Sao Paulo in 2016 – until the Black Ferns Sevens worked Broughton over for the match-winning try.
US beat Australia 24-7 to claim the bronze medal to avenge their loss at the same stage last year.
The next tournament for both men and women’s teams is in Cape Town between Dec.13-15.
Dubai Knights Eagles the new premier rugby club, following this summer’s merger between Dubai Eagles and fellow club Arabian Knights, will be hosting an open day on Friday.
England face the daunting task of trying to match or even improve upon their stunning win over New Zealand when they face South Africa in the World Cup final.
England coach Eddie Jones heads into a World Cup semi-final against New Zealand taking inspiration from legendary football manager Alex Ferguson. Saturday’s fixture in Yokohama
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