Blitzboks beat New Zealand to win the Dubai Sevens
The Blitzboks made the perfect start to the defence of their HSBC World Sevens Series title by winning the season-opening tournament in Dubai on Saturday.
As a result of the 24-12 win over New Zealand in the final‚ South Africa won their fifth Dubai title and set themselves up perfectly for next weekend’s home tournament in Cape Town after winning all six matches in the emirate.
South Africa blitzed New Zealand in the first half of the final‚ scoring three tries through Phillip Snyman‚ Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith with Branco du Preez landing two conversions to run into a 19-0 lead at the break.
New Zealand typically fought back after Rosko Specman was yellow carded‚ with tries through Andrew Knewstubb and captain Scott Curry to make it a nervy end to the match.
But in the dying embers‚ Tim Agaba drove over from close range to seal with win and secure the Blitzboks the maximum 22 log points.
“We let NZ back into the game with a silly yellow card and one or two mistakes towards the end almost cost us‚” SA captain Snyman said.
“It was the first tournament of the year so there were a lot of mistakes and lots we can work on as we turn our attention to Cape Town next week.
“We had a long pre-season and a few of the guys were involved in 15-man rugby and we have been saying that it’s a ‘brand new team with some familiar faces.’
“We aren’t focused on the result‚ we are focused on the processes and our aim is to leave the pitch happy knowing we did all we can‚ even if the result doesn’t go our way.
“But we want to make last year’s loss in Cape Town right this year.”
Smith was named player of the final for his hard-working efforts but he was quick to pass the praise on to his teammates.
“It’s easy to play well in a team as good as this‚” Smith said. “It’s all about making the player next to you look good‚ but NZ made it hard for us‚ especially when we were down to six men.”
Earlier in the day the Blitzboks beat Samoa 26-10 in the quarterfinals and then smothered Fiji to win a tight semi-final 12-7‚ setting up their first final against NZ since Vancouver in 2016.
On day one the Blitzboks topped Pool A with emphatic wins over Kenya (48-5) and Canada (28-0) while battling to a rusty 19-10 win over Uganda in their opening game of the tournament.
Senatla ended the weekend with seven tries to take his career tally to 196 in only 173 matches‚ which moved him into the top five Series try-scorers of all time.