Blitzboks and New Zealand to face off in Dubai Sevens final
The Blitzboks will face New Zealand in the final of the Dubai Sevens on Saturday (5.30pm) after both teams came through tough semi-finals in the blistering desert heat.
The Blitzboks beat Fiji 12-7 in a tight match that the defending World Series champions controlled for the most part while New Zealand beat England 14-5.
The two giants of sevens rugby have not met in a World Series final since Vancouver in 2015/16‚ which the Kiwis won 19-14.
The Blitzboks’ defence smothered Fiji for the bulk of the match and had South Africa been more clinical they might have put more daylight between themselves and the islanders earlier on.
Cecil Afrika opened the scoring in the second minute when he dived over from close range after a surging burst from Kwagga Smith.
Try-glutton Seabelo Senatla made it try number 195 of his career when he stole a ball at the breakdown and raced 40-metres to score late in the first half.
Fiji scored a late try through the even dangerous Jerry Tuwai‚ but couldn’t find a way through the miserly Blitzbok defence to steal victory as the clock ran down.
Earlier in the day overcame Samoa 26-10 in the quarterfinals.
Senatla again proved the major difference‚ scoring two tries.
The first was a routine finish at the end of a good build-up‚ but the second had a hint of genius about it as Senatla stepped and slipped through three tacklers to break the match open.
The Blitzboks were made to work hard for their win but were always in control of the match that also saw tries for Werner Kok and Tim Agaba.
Some uncharacteristically sloppy defence by South Africa allowed Samoa to stay in the contest as they struck back after Senatla’s first try when Faalemiga Selesele made the most of two slipped tackles to score.
Senatla’s superb solo effort for his second try gave the Blitzboks a 12-5 halftime lead but the islanders were back in the game a few minutes later when Alamanda Motuga slipped over in the corner.
But Kok and Agaba settled the matter with well-taken scores to keep the Blitzboks’ search for a fifth Dubai title on track.
ScorersSATries: Cecil Afrika‚ Seabelo SenatlaConversion: Cecil AfrikaFijiTry: Jerry TuwaiConversion: Tuwai