South Africa channelled the hurt of last season’s final defeat to lift their fourth Dubai Sevens title courtesy of a stellar second-half display against Australia.
The Springboks surged to a 33-7 victory in the decider, building on the confidence gained from a semi-final dismantling of HSBC Sevens World Series champions New Zealand. They were fully deserving winners on Pitch 1, coming away from the UAE with the title for the first time in six years.
Neil Powell’s men were a force of nature against the Thunderbolts, barely looking back from when outstanding centre Kwagga Smith danced clear following winger Pama Fou’s sin-binning for a dump tackle on Philip Snyman.
Fou’s first touch after returning to 7he Sevens field saw him cross over just before the interval, but this was as good as it got for Australia.
Forward Snyman picked up from a ruck at the start of the second period to cross over, wide man Seabelo Senatia then turning on the afterburners to touchdown an inviting Cecil Afrika kick.
Senatia soon grabbed his second, finishing off a flowing move in the corner. There was still time for Ruhan Nel to complete the scoring and see the Springboks lift the silverware on Pitch 1.
Previously, a semi-final stage full of shocks saw Dubai holders and Gold Coast Sevens winners Fiji collapse to a 29-24 extra-time defeat to Australia. The Pacific Islanders had raced into a 19-0 lead, but their opponents fought back to see a converted Nick Malouf try put the scores level on the final whistle.
Australia immediately pinned their opponents down upon the restart, quick ball from the scrum seeing Greg Jeloudev crash over following IRB 2013-14 Sevens Dream Team member Cameron Clark’s sweet pass.
“We wanted to defend the title and we don’t like losing,” Fiji coach Ben Ryan said.
“We are hugely disappointed. There was a lack of talking in defence. Before half-time we were 19-0 up and one bad pass let them in.
“That gave them a lifeline. But we had two or three minutes where it was radio silence in defence.”
Smith’s first-half hat-trick saw South Africa pull off the result of the tournament and dump out rampant Rugby World Cup Sevens winners New Zealand.
Such an outcome had seemed inconceivable despite the former’s 40-0 last-eight dismantling of Argentina, the All Blacks winning their three Pool B fixtures by a combined score of 120-0 and thrashing England 29-7 in the previous round. But this form counted for nothing as Smith repeatedly smashed through on the inside ball, Afrika adding a solitary second-half score to seal a 28-0 triumph.
“We didn’t really get a chance to play any footy,” New Zealand captain DJ Forbes said. “South Africa were really clinical, they really put us to the sword. You always go out to win tournaments, so we are disappointed.”
Valuable points in the race to finish in the top four and make the Rio 2016 Olympics were subsequently claimed by the Fijians, star man Osea Kolinisau – top scoring for the second-successive World Series event – claiming one of the tries of the weekend by collecting his own chip through in their 26-12 third-place play-off win.
That result saw Ryan’s men remain at the top of the standings, two points ahead of South Africa. New Zealand and Australia replace England and Samoa in the all-important qualification spots, with seven rounds still to go.
Meanwhile, Segundo Tuculet’s brace saw Argentina lift the Plate for the second-successive year after coming from behind to beat Scotland 26-12. Samoa saw off France 31-21 in an entertaining Bowl final, while Canada claimed the Shield, dispatching Kenya 19-12 thanks to Justin Douglas’ brace.
Fans adore the Dubai Rugby Sevens
Sensational South Africa are crowned Dubai Rugby Sevens 2014 champions after beating Australia in the final.