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South Africa beat England in Thrilling Rugby Sevens Final in Dubai

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In a final that’s been described as one of the best in Dubai to date, South Africa produced a thrilling last-minute victory over England to claim the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens trophy on Saturday.

Taking on an English side that had impressed many over the two-day international tournament, the South Africans were first to put points on the board and had rushed to a 12-0 lead by half time, thanks to tries from 19-year-old Robert Ebersohn and Mpho Mbiyozo.

A determined England fought their way back in the second, however, with Tom Biggs and Micky Young both crossing the try line. And with the scores level on 12-12 in the dying minutes, it was anybody’s game.

Then, with just 35 seconds on the clock, a stroke of brilliance from the South Africans saw Ryno Benjamin safely dotting down the final try of the tournament which sealed the 19-12 win.

“It’s a great feeling to win again in Dubai after just missing out in the semifinal last year,” said South African coach Paul Treu. “What we’ve learned is that a real team effort is what’s required. Sometimes there’s a bit of luck involved, like that kick against Fiji in the semifinal, but most of the time it’s strong defence and a solid team effort that wins matches.”

The man who is the top all-time points-scorer in Sevens rugby, England’s Ben Gollings, who arrived in Dubai but was then sidelined through injury was pleased with his team’s performance in reaching the final.

“Nobody expected us to get as far as we did so this is a real confidence booster ahead of the World Cup Sevens back here in March, and of course for the rest of the IRB Series,” said Gollings. “It was extremely frustrating coming this far and having to sit and watch from the sidelines when you’ve trained so hard to get here, but I have to say it was a great final to watch.

Earlier in the evening, his side had defeated defending champions New Zealand in the Cup semifinal while South Africa had accounted for Fiji to book their place in the final.

In the other international finals of the evening, it was Samoa who emerged as Plate champions after beating Kenya 12-7. Portugal took home the Bowl after a comfortable 24-0 win over France. And the home side Arabian Gulf appeared in their first ever final, but couldn’t manage to get the better of an ever-improving USA team who eventually won the Shield 31-7.

While celebrations continued into the night at The Sevens, with The Tom Jones Experience performing at the famous Rugby Rock concert on Saturday, the world’s top teams were already thinking ahead to their return to Dubai for the World Cup Sevens, which will be held from March 5-7, 2009.

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