The Blitzboks clinched the Dubai Sevens title with an impressive 26-14 win over arch-rivals Fiji in the gold medal final on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
In the lead-up to this new World Rugby Sevens Series, Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman said the team was tired of coming second. This was in reference to their runners-up finish in the last three campaigns, while it was Fiji that came up trumps at their expense in the 2015-16 season.
This time around, however, the islanders had simply no answer to the pace and precision of a Blitzboks side that has played with immense intent throughout the two-day tournament.
Coming up against Fiji, the key for South Africa would be to front up physically, and they did just that with some superb work at the collisions, while they also displayed important mental resolve to see off a characteristic fightback from the Olympic gold medallists.
The Blitzboks made the perfect start to the final when Seabelo Senatla created a try that was finished off by Cecil Afrika within the opening minute after Fiji had failed to cleanly collect the kick-off.
Just two minutes later and the Blitzboks doubled their lead as Branco du Preez took a quick tap from the halfway line and charged through a weak tackle attempt to score under the posts.
Importantly for Fiji, though, Osea Kolinisau struck back with a crucial try just before the break that made it a seven-point ball game.
In typical fashion, Fiji struck another big blow when Pio Tuwai scored straight from the restart, but the Blitzboks hit back almost immediately when Chris Dry showed a clean pair of heels to go over unopposed and send South Africa back into the lead.
With less than a minute remaining, the Blitzboks then sealed the deal as Senatla successfully chased a kick ahead to collect and score a try that handed his side the Dubai title.
Photo: Tom Dulat/World Rugby