The Blitzboks extended their lead at the top of the World Series standings despite losing 21-14 to England in the Cup final of the Tokyo Sevens.
The result sees South Africa open up a four-point lead over Fiji with two rounds remaining. The Blitzboks had earlier booked their place in the final with victories over Scotland and the islanders.
However, Neil Powell's men would be disappointed not to secure their first title since the PE Sevens, as handling errors and lapses in concentration cost them dearly against the English.
Seabelo Senatla might've opened the scoring in the final, but he dived too early and lost the ball over the line. As it was, the sides went into the half-time break level with a try apiece through Charlie Hayter and Justin Geduld.
South Africa were caught napping at the start of the second half as Tom Mitchell put a chip in behind their defence before regathering to go over and hand England the lead.
The Blitzboks were left with a mountain to climb as some quick thinking from Phil Burgess saw him race the length of the field to open up a 14-point lead with five minutes remaining.
Coach Powell rung the changes, and they had an almost immediate effect, as Cecil Afrika went in for a try with three minutes left. But it would prove too little, too late, as England closed out the match to secure their first title in over two years.
Meanwhile, Fiji secured third place as a try after the hooter secured a 21-19 win over Canada, while New Zealand ended a disappointing tournament with a 21-14 victory against Scotland in the Plate final.
Fiji 41 Japan 7
South Africa 22 Scotland 0
England 10 France 0
Canada 19 New Zealand 15
South Africa 7 Fiji 5
England 14 Canada 5
England 21 South Africa 14
World Series standings (top 10 after seven rounds):
1. South Africa 129
2. Fiji 125
3. New Zealand 120
4. England 100
5. Australia 91
6. USA 71
7. Scotland 67
8. Argentina 66
9. Samoa 56
10. France 54
Photo: Ken Ishii/Getty Images