South Africa kick off series with title defence in Dubai

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South Africa successfully defended their Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens title after beating New Zealand 24-12 in the opening round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018.

The reigning world series champions unleashed all their attacking firepower in what was a breathtaking display of sevens rugby across the two days. With his most experienced side ever, head coach Neil Powell notched up his fifth tournament win of 2017 and continued South Africa’s dominance on the global stage.

First-half tries from Rosko Specman, former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Seabelo Senatla and HSBC Player of the Final Kwagga Smith put the Blitzboks 19-0 up against New Zealand, who were chasing their first tournament win since Vancouver in 2016. Scott Curry and Andrew Knewstubb got the All Blacks Sevens back into the match, but at 19-12 it was the powerful Tim Agaba who closed the game out.

“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.”

England pipped Fiji 28-21 to win the Bronze final, while France beat Spain 21-12 to win the Challenge Trophy. The next round of the series takes place in Cape Town on 9-10 December, where England will be looking to retain their crown.

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