DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Dec 7 – Blitzbokke flyer Rosko Specman helped South Africa to a 15-0 victory over New Zealand on Saturday to win the opening leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai.
The South Africans scraped past Argentina 12-5 in the quarter-finals before routing Samoa 38-7 in the semi-finals.
New Zealand had overcome the United States (26-5) and England (19-12) to set up the final, but the Boks proved too strong, keeping the All Blacks pointless as they notched up a seventh title in the United Arab Emirates, the first of 10 tournaments in a season that culminates in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I’m so proud of the boys. We call ourselves a defence team and we are proud of that. That’s what the boys showed tonight,” Blitzbokke captain Siviwe Soyizwapi said.
South Africa’s victory ended a run of three defeats against New Zealand, skipper Soyizwapi crossing for the game’s opening try just before half-time.
Chris Dry went over for the Boks’ second before speedster Seabeloa Senatla sealed a comprehensive win with a 75-metre effort.
“The crowd in Dubai is amazing, they always come with the numbers whether it’s Fiji, New Zealand or South Africa and I’d like to say thank you to everyone – I hope we have made you guys proud this weekend,” Specman said, with the Dubai sevens celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Will Muir proved to be England’s ‘super sub’ in the third-place play-off against Samoa, scoring a mere 14 seconds after coming onto the pitch to secure a 19-14 win in a entertaining match.
Olympic champions Fiji could only finish ninth – their lowest ever placing in Dubai in series history – after agonisingly missing out on a Cup quarter-final place on points difference in their pool. They wrapped up their Emirati experience by scoring six tries in a 40-17 victory over Canada.
Meanwhile, Kenya picked a paltry four points after beating Scotland 26-14 in the 13th place play-off.
Under the new World Sevens Series format, 3rd and 4th placed after pool matches drop to playoff finals where they play only one game.
Shujaa lost all pool matches going down 22-19 to Spain after losing 12-5 to England and Thursday’s 17-12 defeat to South Africa.