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France and South Africa had never previously met in a Cup final and Pierre Gilles Lakafia’s early try forced South Africa to come from behind but they stood up impressively, putting three converted tries on France before conceding again.
Selvyn Davids ran more than half the field to set up Impi Visser beneath the posts, Werner Kok stole the ball to set up Davids three minutes into first-half overtime, before Kok got on the scoresheet himself on the left-hand side.
Stephen Parez scored a late consolation try — the 295th of the weekend, the most in a stage this season — with a remarkable run down the left, but it wasn’t enough to get his side back into the game.
It marks an incredible turn of fortune for France, who picked up just one point in Las Vegas last week, reaching their first Cup final since Port Elizabeth in 2012.
But they could not overcome an impressive South African side, who will look to use this performance as a stepping stone to retaining their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series crown.
South Africa captain Philip Snyman said: “It was a much-needed win for our team and I think the boys played some fantastic rugby throughout the tournament. I’m really happy with the win and hopefully we can build on this one now.
BRONZE FOR FIJI
Reigning Vancouver champions Fiji were simply too skilful for USA to seal third, completing a 24-14 victory in the Bronze Final.
They dominated possession for the first 90 seconds and made it count, Alesio Naduva found in space on the right wing. He was soon beaten by Kevon Williams as USA took the lead, but a beautiful one-handed offload from Naduva set up Terio Veilawa before half-time.
Sevuloni Mocenacagi strode back inside for a perfect running line before Carlin Isles made Fiji pay for a tackle in the air, using the man advantage to dot down in the corner. But with his side back to their full complement, Jerry Tuwai created a break and found Vilimoni Botitu on the left to put the result beyond doubt.
NEW ZEALAND FINISH FIFTH
New Zealand finished outside the top four for the first time this season but confirmed fifth place with a 26-19 victory over England.
It required patience early on but Jona Nareki eventually got them going, finishing simply from a set-piece. England responded stylishly with Tom Mitchell feeding Dan Norton on the inside, a move he would repeat with Tom Bowen on the outside. In between times, Vilimoni Koroi scored after a delightful pass flipped over the top from Nareki.
Nareki added his second as Tone Ng Shiu drew in defenders on the left to create space. Ngarohi McGarvey-Black found space in behind the England defence and Ryan Olowofela’s score came too late for England.
AUSTRALIA CLINCH CHALLENGE TROPHY
Australia lifted the Challenge Trophy after a clinical 35-21 victory over Canada. Simon Kennewell was the first to strike, running in his eighth try of the weekend, the ball shifted across the field from a quick lineout. Ben O’Donnell then produced a perfect kick forward for Dylan Pietsch, the original 13th man who proved to be a revelation, to latch onto.
Pietsch added Australia’s fifth late on after scores for Henry Hutchison and John Porch. Tries from Luke McCloskey, Isaac Kaay and Harry Jones gave the home supporters something to cheer but Canada finished tenth.