South Africa withstood a late surge by Australia to claim a 30-21 victory in the sevens final at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia, Samoa, on Friday.
Both sides advanced to the final undefeated, but it was the young South Africans who secured their first gold medal at the games after losing in the 2011 final against the same opposition.
South Africa made the better start and led 24-5 at the break, courtesy of tries by captain Heino Bezuidenhout, Embrose Papier and Francois Agenbag.
Australia fought back strongly after the resumption, scoring 15 unanswered points to move within four of South Africa's tally with three minutes left on the clock. But any hopes of a complete turnaround was ended when Agenbag skipped through the Aussie defence for his second converted try to seal gold for Team South Africa.
‘I think this is my greatest achievement in my rugby career,' Bezuidenhout told Sascoc.co.za. 'I have played Craven Week and SA Schools, but this feeling is unbelievable. To come here and beat some really quality teams, especially England, Samoa and Australia, is truly special. I am going to remember this day for many years to come.’
Coach Marius Schoeman was equally satisfied.
‘The boys made it a bit hard on themselves in the second half, but dug in deep when they needed to. This Australian team has been together for some time now and attended five training camps before the competition.
‘They were pretty confident of gold, but we knew if we stuck to our structures, believed in the structures and played for each other we had every chance of winning. I’m just trying to let it sink in, I am very proud of this group.’
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images