Published Monday 28 July 2014

New Zealand’s long reign as Commonwealth Games rugby sevens champions was ended by a blindingly fast South African team at Ibrox Stadium.

The South Africans upset New Zealand 17-12 in a quality final.

The result means that New Zealand have finally lost a match at the Commonwealth Games, after a victorious run stretching right back to when the sport was introduced, in 1998. It also ends coach Gordon Tietjens run of nearly 30 successive Games wins.

New Zealand began the final promisingly when Sherwin Stowers scored under the posts after four minutes.

However, the South Africans had several speedsters who looked increasingly threatening. In particular Seabelo Senalta constantly threatened the New Zealand defence.

When New Zealand’s Bryce Heem was sinbinned, it allowed the South Africans to score just before halftime, and not surprisngly, it was Senalta who burst through.

In the second half, Senalta went over again and Cecil Afrika added another.

At 17-7 with only four minutes remaining, New Zealand looked gone.

A late try by Joe Webber closed the gap, but the South Africans hung on to score a historic win.

To reach the final, New Zealand had beaten Australia 19-7 and South Africa had hinted at what was to come by smashing Samoa 35-7.

New Zealand captain DJ Forbes was philosophical afterwards.

“That's finals footy,” he said. “Pressure builds and causes players to make the wrong decisions at crucial times and that was all of us from one to 12. It's disappointing.

“The only positive is that Tietj said before ‘form is temporary but class lasts forever’. We're a classy side, no doubt. But maybe 10 or 11 minutes of that 20-minute final we were a bit off that pace. Good on South Africa, they played really well."