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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - It was a rather bitter-sweet weekend for New Zealand at the 50th edition of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on Saturday night.
The Black Ferns pulled off a heist against Canada with a 17-14 scoreline to triumph in the women's section but the All Blacks were unable to make it the perfect weekend, failing in their quest against South Africa at The Sevens Stadium, that was packed to the rafters.
South Africa brought their 'A' game on the park with the Blitzboks winning 15-0, in the first round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
It was their seventh title in Dubai and the South Africans overtook New Zealand, who have six. The Blitzboks had won in 2003 and 2006, when it was held at the Dubai Exiles and then later in 2008, 2014, 2016 and 2017 at The Sevens.
Meanwhile, it was a fifth runners-up finish in Dubai for the All Blacks.
The Black Ferns, meanwhile, clinched their fifth crown in Dubai but not before encountering a stiff fight from Canada.
They were trailing 14-12 with the grip loosening for the defending champions. But with 21 seconds to go, Gayle Broughton just about got enough room to make a dash for it in the nick of time. And although she was cornered by the defenders, a try and title it was for the Black Ferns.
Blitzboks flyer Rosko Specman, who was adjudged the Player of the Final, said can be dangerous when he gets the space.
"I must say, for the first run, it was tough but then I got used to the guys. They pushed me and they just the space so that I can work. And when I have the space, and the guys don't go up, I'm dangerous in that position," said Specman.
The 30-year-old, who had four tries in six matches and has an overall points tally of 400 points from 156 matches, with 74 tries, also paid tribute to the crowd of 40,000, who turned up on the night.
"The crowd in Dubai is amazing. They always come out in numbers even if it is Fiji, New Zealand or South Africa. I must say thank you to everyone. I hope we made you guys proud this weekend," he said.
New Zealand's Stacey Waaka, who was adjudged the Player of the Final, was chuffed with how they bounced back.
"This is my favourite tournament by far," said Waaka, while still trying to catch her breathe.
"I'm stoked that (Gayle) Broughton came out and did her thing. As I said before, yesterday (Friday) we were very gutted about the loss (to France in the final Pool C fixture). So, to come out and put up a big fight like this was amazing. Canada were amazing and they took us right to the end. So, I'm pretty stoked with the girls," added the 24-year-old, who scored 15 tries across 12 matches.
Waaka, who accumulated 75 points, was presented with the award by England's Danielle Waterman.
Meanwhile, teammate Tyla Nathan-Wong said that it was about playing with pride when pulling on the famed black jersey.
"It doesn't matter who pulls this black jersey on you have gotta play with pride, mana and for yourself, your friends, your family and for the fern," said Nathan-Wong.
The Black Ferns Sevens, who had finished third in the opening round of the Series in Glendale, USA, in October, vaulted to the top of the Series standings to be tied on 36 points round 1 winners USA.
The Blitzboks lead the table and take 22 points going into the next round at home in Cape Town, South Africa, next weekend.
Final: South Africa beat New Zealand 15-0
Bronze Final: England beat Samoa 19-17
Semifinals: New Zealand beat England 19-12; South Africa beat Samoa 38-7. Quarterfinals: England beat France 19-12; New Zealand beat USA 26-5; South Africa beat Argentina 12-5; Samoa beat Australia 19-14
Final: New Zealand beat Canada 17-14
Bronze Final: USA beat Australia 24-7
Semifinals: Canada beat Australia 26-12; New Zealand beat USA 24-7. Quarterfinals: Australia beat Spain 21-0; Canada beat France 19-7; New Zealand beat Fiji 24-10; USA beat Russia 28-7
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