The Springbok Sevens defeated four times champions New Zealand 17-12 in front of a capacity crowd at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow to win a historic gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday evening.
South Africa wrestled the title away from New Zealand in a memorable final and in the process handed the Kiwis their first ever defeat at the Commonwealth Games. The Springbok Sevens’ previous best attempts were two bronze medals.
The Springbok Sevens, playing as part of the SASCOC Team SA at the Games, finished the first match day unbeaten after victories over the Cooks Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and also Kenya.
On Sunday they defeated Scotland 35-12 in the quarterfinals and Samoa 35-7 in the semis to book a gold medal decider against champions New Zealand.
Tries from speedster Seabelo Senatla (2) and Cecil Afrika, one converted by Branco du Preez, were enough for them to inflict a first-ever Commonwealth defeat on the previously all-conquering New Zealanders.
The Kiwis scored two tries through Sherwin Stowers and Joe Webber, Gillies Kaka nailing one conversion.
The first half saw a huge physical battle and NZ made the most of the early play and forced the Springbok Sevens on the back foot. South Africa suffered an early blow when captain Kyle Brown left the field with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by Kwagga Smith.
NZ scored first when Stowers ran through after a sustained period of pressure. However, they then had a player yellow carded for a needless foul when Bryce Heem was sent to the cooler for kicking the ball away.
Senatla scored his first when he sprinted clear to score under the post and the two teams went into the break even at 7-7.
After the break Senatla again showed his now familiar turn of speed after Frankie Horne had fed him on the blind side to score in the corner. The Springbok Sevens flyer took his tally for the weekend to ten tries in six match.
Afrika, a former IRB Sevens Player of the Year, dotted down in the corner after he had outsprinted the cover defence, stretching their lead to 17-7. However, NZ hit back through Joe Webber to reduce the deficit to just 17-12 with less than two minutes remaining.
But NZ then made a handling error, handing possession and the scrum to the Springbok Sevens who gladly booted the ball into touch afterwards to clinch a deserved gold medal.