South Africa too good for Australia to win Dubai Rugby Sevens title

South Africa beat Australia 33-7, Paul Radley reports from Dubai.
South Africa have emerged the best international team at the Dubai Rugby Sevens this year. Karim Sahib / AFP
South Africa have emerged the best international team at the Dubai Rugby Sevens this year. Karim Sahib / AFP

DUBAI // This was always supposed to be England’s home from home. We might have to revise that wisdom, after South Africa claimed a fourth Dubai Rugby Sevens title, bayed on by thousands of their expatriate countrymen in the desert.

And it was not even close. The Blitzbokke blitzed the competition. They were first, second was nowhere.

The 33-7 win over Australia in the showpiece game of the weekend was about as comprehensive as trophy finals get.

“This was one of our team’s most clinical performances we have ever played,” said Kyle Brown, the South Africa captain.

“It is one of those things you don’t want to mention too much, but when we are on fire, we are a very, very, very difficult team to beat.

“No 1 at the end of the season is what we are looking for, but in the long run we want to be dominant.

“Dominance entails doing it year after year and not just for a once off performance.”

As an indicator of South Africa’s dominance over the weekend, they had three of the top eight try scorers.

Seabelo Senatla scored seven, Kwagga Smith six and Cecil Afrika five.

Smith, whose forename translates from Afrikaans as “zebra”, was particularly conspicuous because of his excellence, even if his partner-in-crime Werner Kok was the official player of the tournament.

“With guys like Werner and Kwagga coming through aged 21, it worries me whether I am going to get a place next year,” Brown said.

“[Smith] made a couple of guys stand up and take notice of what he can do - somebody who is under 90kgs playing openside flank at Curry Cup level and he is just smoking people.

“He has a lot of firepower for his size, he is incredibly fit, he moves well, he fetches well and he is super powerful.”

Smith’s first-half hat-trick of tries was the centre-piece of a rampant 28-0 win over New Zealand in the semi-final.

Not bad for someone who arrived in the UAE more or less entirely unheralded.

He also scored the opening try in the final, while Australia were short-handed after Pama Fou was sin-binned for a reckless tackle on Philip Snyman.

Australia were lucky Fou’s censure was not more severe. And once he returned after his enforced two-minute break, he scored a try immediately.

Straight after doing so, he went up to the nearest defender to him, which happened to be Snyman, and apologised for his previous assault.

Even with him still on, Australia were powerless to halt a relentless South African surge. Cue a party in the heaving scaffolding stands.

“There are lots of South Africans here and they say they always meet each other at the rugby, so it was great to have them here,” Smith said.

“We have to be humble and keep our feet on the ground [ahead of their home tournament in Port Elizabeth next week].”

Geraint John, the Welshman who is coach of Australia, said reaching the final represented progress for his side, despite the subsequent result.

“I am happy but when you get to a final you want to perform and for it to be much closer than that,” John said.

“[South Africa] are a very good side, a very disciplined and well structured side and we came second best in that final, but to get there we were really pleased.”

Fiji may have surrendered their Emirates International Trophy, but they retained the lead in the world series after beating New Zealand to third place.

Despite throwing away a three-try to nil advantage against Australia in the semi-final, Ben Ryan said it was not difficult to rouse his side for the meeting with the All Blacks Sevens.

“Physically we showed New Zealand the upper hand and just bossed them,” Ryan, the former England coach said after the 26-12 win in the play-off.

“The captain Osea Kolinisau was outstanding. He was close to fainting in the dressing room after. He gave every ounce and was smashing people.

“For our young kids coming on, Fiji vs New Zealand is their right of passage.

“They are told they don’t get a proper Fiji sevens cap unless they knock over New Zealand.”

Follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 6, 2014 04:00 AM


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