South Africa started the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2017-18 on a victorious note after beating New Zealand 24-12 in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
This is the second consecutive time South Africa have clinched the Dubai leg of the tournament after previously claiming it during the previous season when they clinched the title.
After a shaky start against Uganda, South Africa picked up comfortable wins against Kenya and Canada to set up a quarter-final against Samoa that they won 26-10. Tries from Cecil Afrika and Seabelo Senatla were crucial in them defending Fiji in the semi-final with a 12-7 margin before they locked horns with New Zealand in the final.
Despite starting the game well and having a lead of 19-0 at halftime after tries from Philip Snyman, Senatla and Kwagga Smith, they had to withstand a second-half fightback from New Zealand, who had Scott Curry and Andrew Knewstubb scoring tries. Eventually, it was their last try from Tim Agaba that helped South Africa complete a thrilling seven-point win.
"It was a great performance from the guys," said Senatla, who scored seven tries in Dubai, "It's been a while since we all played together but it's so great to win again in Dubai."
Meanwhile, England defeated Fiji 28-21 to win the Bronze after they lost to New Zealand in the semi-final 14-5 while France won the Challenge Final after beating Spain 21-12.