Commonwealth Games 2014: South Africa end All Blacks’ dreams of fifth straight rugby sevens title
South Africa hand the All Blacks their first ever defeat at the Commonwealth Games
Monday 28 July 2014
Still all black but no longer all gold. Unlike in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, Manchester in 2002, Melbourne in 2006 and Delhi four years ago, New Zealand did not prove untouchable when the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens title was on the line here at the home of Glasgow Rangers last night.
They were undone 17-12 by a dynamic South Africa in the gold medal match, denying the All Blacks a fifth Commonwealth crown out of five – which would have been a record in a single event. It was their first defeat in 31 Commonwealth sevens matches.
The New Zealanders led from the third minute of the final, Ben Lam – nephew of former All Black flanker and Scotland assistant coach Pat Lam – brilliantly teeing up Sherwin Stowers for the opening score. They then lost Bryce Heem to the sin bin for two minutes and were pegged back to 7-7 by the interval when Seabelo Senatla breached their overstretched defence for a converted try.
Although the All Blacks were restored to their full complement for the second-half, the men in black could not stop the flying Senatla haring over to make it 12-7 and then Cecil Afrika scoring a third try for South Africa to leave the holders 17-7 down. Joe Webber burst through to cut the deficit to 17-12 with two minutes left but South Africa held on.
The New Zealanders had been tied 7-7 in their semi-final against Australia until two scores by Scott Curry in the last three minutes took them through to the gold-medal match. Sadly, there was no home team in either medal match. Bronze went to the Aussies courtesy of a 24-0 win against Samoa.
Scotland, England and Wales all came to grief in the quarter-finals and were relegated to the Plate contest. The Scots were outclassed by South Africa 35-12, England were shaded 15-14 by Samoa and Wales led Australia 19-7 at half-time but missed out when Cam Clark landed a conversion after the hooter had sounded.
The first Plate semi, a Scotland-England affair, saw the Scots claw back from 15-0 down at half-time to 15-12, but they could not quite complete the job. A dramatic score after the hooter by Phil Burgess then plundered a 17-15 victory for England over Wales in the final.
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