DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — South Africa defended the Dubai Sevens rugby title by beating New Zealand 24-12 in the final on Saturday.
New Zealand undermined its cause in the first minute when Joe Ravouvou was sin-binned for a high tackle on Branco du Preez. South Africa exploited the extra man with successive tries by Philip Snyman, Seabelo Senatla, and Kwagga Smith to be 19-0.
Then Rosko Specman was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on, and New Zealand came back through tries by Andrew Knewstubb and Scott Curry to cut the deficit to seven.
But South Africa managed the time well, and Tim Agaba scored with a break from a lineout with seconds to go.
The South Africans won Dubai for the third time in four seasons.
They beat Fiji 12-7 in the semifinals, and Samoa 26-10 in the quarterfinals.
New Zealand reached its first final in the world series since Hong Kong in April 2016, 13 tournaments ago, by knocking out Australia and England.
The second leg in Cape Town is next weekend.