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Sevens youngsters strike gold in Samoa
- Updated: September 11, 2015
With a week to go before the start of the Rugby World Cup, Team South Africa chipped in with a morale-boosting gold medal in the Sevens competition at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Apia, Samoa, on Friday.
The Springboks may well meet the Wallabies in the quarter-finals at the RWC, but the Sevens youth side put one over Australian counterparts in the final.
Both teams had reached the final unbeaten, and the crowd knew that they were watching the top two countries in the competition.
Team SA started quickly, racing to a 24-5 advantage at the break, but, as they might have expected, Australia weren’t going to lay over and simply accept the silver medal. They wanted that treasured gold.
They came out firing and narrowed the gap to 24-20 with just three minutes left on the clock, leaving one score between the teams, but then South Africa got over for a late try, which was converted, to stretch the final score to 31-20.
It was their first Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal, having been beaten in the 2011 final by the same opponents in the Isle of Man.
Captain Heino Bezuidenhout was ecstatic after the victory. ‘I think this is my greatest achievement in my rugby career. I have played Craven Week and SA Schools, but this feeling in unbelievable. To come here and beat some really quality teams, especially England, Samoa and Australia is truly special. I am going to remember this day for many years to come.’
Coach Marius Schoeman was equally satisfied. ‘The boys made it a bit hard on themselves in the second half, but dug in deep when they needed to. This Australian team has been together for some time now and attended five training camps before the competition.
‘They were pretty confident of gold, but we knew if we stuck to our structures, believed in the structures and played for each other we had every chance of winning. I’m just trying to let it sink in, I am very proud of this group.’
Elsewhere, on the tennis courts, Zani Barnard was involved in the play off for bronze but she had to withdraw due to illness, while one set down to a representative from Papua New Guinea 6-2.