Emotional win for Blitzbokke
Reviving emotional memories of Nelson Mandela's great sporting gesture, South Africa beat New Zealand in another rugby final in a stadium named after the former president.
The South Africans, who dedicated this victory in Port Elizabeth to the memory of their late president, fought back from a 14-0 deficit early in the first half to beat defending champions New Zealand 17-14 in a tense final and clinch round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series played in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Blitzbokke won't care a bit that the sevens game is less prestigious than the 15-man World Cup they famously lifted with the help of Mandela in 1995.
Two late first half tries got South Africa back in contention and a Kyle Brown try in the second half gave them a lead they would not surrender again. They kept their composure in the last minutes to keep New Zealand at bay and away from the gold medal presentation.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was a very relieved man afterwards.
"We needed to be close to New Zealand at the break, so when we scored late in the first half (through Branco du Preez), it meant a lot to the guys," he said.
We showed a lot of guts out there and the guys really played for each other. I am a very proud coach at the moment," said Powell, who won his first title after only three tournaments in charge.
According to Powell, the Madiba magic touched his team and they dedicated this victory to his memory.
"It was a very emotional weekend for all South Africans, but we realised that we needed to do it for his memory and for ourselves," he added.
"We could only do it by playing as a team and playing for each other.
Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown, also praised his team-mates for their special effort.
"We were all desperate for a good result and knew that we had to do this as a team. We had to dig deep to come back, but I never doubted the character and will to win," said Brown.
"This is a special win and we cannot thank the crowd enough for their support. It was also important for us to keep improving and following our fourth place at the Gold Coast and second spot in Dubai, a win here justified the hard work the squad has put into training."
The New Zealanders still lead the standings but are now just two points ahead of South Africa. The sevens series moves to Las Vegas for round four in late January.