DUBAI: Australia women and South Africa men claimed the first titles of the HSBC SVNS 2024 season with victories over Argentina and New Zealand respectively at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on Sunday.
In the men’s final, South Africa’s Blitzboks overcame a spirited Argentina 12-7 to lift their fifth straight Emirates Dubai 7s trophy – equalling the record for successive titles at a single location. Although Argentina had to settle for silver it represented their best result in Dubai.
Impi Visser had already crossed for the Blitzboks when Shilton van Wyk, player of the final in 2022, went over in the fifth minute to take the score to 12-0.
Argentina’s Matias Osadczuk cut the deficit to five points early in the second half, after Ryan Oosthuizen was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
Rosko Specman came within inches of a spectacular score but lost the ball – and ploughed into a steward – in the corner, as South Africa held off the Argentinian fightback.
With the series heading to South Africa next week, their run to the title in Dubai could not have come at a better time. Fans will be hoping they can go back-to-back in Cape Town next weekend.
South Africa’s acting head coach Philip Snyman hailed his squad’s “amazing performances throughout the weekend.”
He said: “We said we wanted to leave everything on the field. It doesn’t matter what happens with the result – we want to look each other in the eye and have smiles on our faces.
“Even with the yellow card tonight, they really played each other, they played for their jersey, and they restored the pride in the Springbok Sevens jersey.”
South Africa started the day strongly with a 24-7 quarter-final defeat of Australia, before overcoming Fiji 14-7 in an intense semi-final.
Argentina overcame Samoa 21-14 in the quarter-final before narrowly beating New Zealand’s All Blacks Sevens 21-19 in a pulsating semi-final.
New Zealand recovered from the disappointment of their semi-final defeat to take home the bronze medals with a 17-12 victory over Fiji.
The women’s final was another epic encounter between the top two teams in the world. In a replay of last year’s final, Australia overcame their archrivals 26-19 to end New Zealand’s winning run on 41 matches, which spanned since their loss in the Dubai final last year.
Teagan Levi touched down either side of halftime as Australia ended New Zealand’s winning streak to claim their fourth consecutive title in Dubai.
Not to be overshadowed by her younger sister, Maddison Levi broke her own tournament try record, her 12th try of the weekend in the 13th minute was the decisive one.
The match kicked off at an astonishing speed – and did not let up. Bienne Terita scored the opening try with just 23 seconds on the clock to set Australia on the road to the title in the 23rd final meeting between the two sides.
But the Black Ferns Sevens made it difficult for the champions. Jorja Miller touched down twice in the first five minutes en route to a hat-trick in a losing cause, before Maddison Levi settled the tournament in the closing minutes.
Australia’s captain Charlotte Caslick said: “She’s (Maddison Levi) unbelievable. She’s had an amazing pre-season so we’re all just getting to see the hard work that she’s done this year.”
On the game plan for becoming the first team to beat New Zealand since last year’s final in Dubai, Caslick added: “We wanted to hold the ball as much as possible because we know when they touch it, they’re dangerous. That was key for us – restarts and holding on to the ball.
“We love coming to Dubai, we love the fans here, playing in front of you guys. It’s a great team and we’re so proud of them. We worked really hard for this, so it’s really special for us.”
New Zealand’s passage to the final saw them beat Brazil 26-14 in the quarter-final before overcoming Canada 21-19 in a nail-biting finish to an exhilarating match.
Australia began the day with a convincing 32-5 quarter-final win over the US before running out 21-14 winners against France in a high-quality semi-final.
Canada missed out on their first medal since winning silver in Sydney in 2020 as they were well beaten 26-5 by France who claimed the bronze medal and put in a strong performance throughout the weekend with the returning Anne-Cecile Ciofani contributing to building excitement ahead of the Olympic Games in Paris next July.