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Rugby: South Africa celebrate sevens success in Nelson Mandela Bay

South Africa won the Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens after a spectacular final, coming back from 14-0 down against series leaders New Zealand to win 17-14 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Photos: IRB / Martin Seras Lima.

South Africa won the Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens after a spectacular final, coming back from 14-0 down against series leaders New Zealand to win 17-14 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Photos: IRB / Martin Seras Lima.

December 9, 2013: An inspired South Africa fought back from 14-0 down to beat New Zealand 17-14 in an emotional final and delight home fans with victory in the Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens in Port Elizabeth.

 

It was South Africa’s first Cup win at home since 2008 and their first at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, a fitting and poignant tribute to the country’s late former President.

 

Blitzbokke forward Frankie Horne, who made the tournament’s ‘Dream Team’, said it was a fitting time and place for Neil Powell’s men to win their first title on the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series, which helped them move within two points of leaders New Zealand.

 

Frankie Horne (pictured against New Zealand in the final) on Nelson Mandela: “We have such a diverse culture and he tried to build a nation through sport and specifically rugby. This is just a great way to remember him.”

Frankie Horne (pictured against New Zealand in the final) on Nelson Mandela: “We have such a diverse culture and he tried to build a nation through sport and specifically rugby. This is just a great way to remember him.”

“It’s a very emotional weekend for us. We’ve lost a former President who was one of the great icons. We have such a diverse culture and he tried to build a nation through sport and specifically rugby. This is just a great way to remember him,” said Horne, who scored his 50th series try on Saturday.

 

“We’ve been trying to win here for three years. We came close two years ago and we just stuck to our guns tonight and it came off for us.”

 

Captain Kyle Brown added: “To play in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on such an emotional weekend, this is the best feeling in the whole world right now.”

 

South Africa, who won the 2008-09 series, looked overwhelmed in the opening exchanges, but the hosts fought back with the support of a passionate crowd. Brown believes the victory is a sign of things to come.

 

“We knew they were going to blitz from the first couple of minutes and we back our fitness quite a lot,” the captain said.

 

South Africa star Cecil Afrika with the trophy.

South Africa star Cecil Afrika with the trophy.

“We’ve got some incredible game breakers in Justin Geduld, Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika, so all we do as the forwards is try to grind out and create space for them. We know they have a talented squad, but we back our bench more. In that last couple of minutes, it really showed with the fitness, the concentration and the focus.”

 

In earlier finals, Samoa beat Argentina 21-7 to win the third-place playoff, while Dubai champions Fiji crushed France 45-19 in the Plate final following a surprise 28-12 loss to Samoa in the Cup quarters.

 

England rallied to win all three of their games on day two to take the Bowl, beating Australia 28-19 in the final, and Scotland took the Shield with a 19-12 win over Canada.

 

After three rounds of the series, first-leg winners New Zealand have 58 points and lead South Africa (56), Fiji (48) and England (40).

 

Following the pool draw for the USA Sevens in Las Vegas on January 24-26, 2014, South Africa will head Pool A and line up against Kenya, Wales and Canada.

 

New Zealand face Fiji, Australia and Scotland in a competitive Pool B, Samoa face Portugal, England and Uruguay in Pool C, while Argentina will play France, hosts USA and Spain in Pool D.

 

Werner Kok on the charge in the 45-0 quarter-final win over Portugal.

South Africa’s Werner Kok on the charge in the 45-0 quarter-final win over Portugal.

Source: IRB

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