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Medal for Sevens

Delhi: South Africa’s Sevens rugby team won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games after beating England 17-14 in the third place play-off.

They missed out on the chance of winning gold or silver when they went down to Australia 17-7 earlier in the day. New Zealand later beat Australia 24-17 in the final to secure a fourth consecutive Games victory in the sevens code. On Wednesday South Africa and England’s womens’ hockey teams will also do battle for bronze.

The Blitzbokke scored three tries to seal victory after trailing 14-5 at halftime. Bernardo Botha had opened the scoring for SA with a try early on in the match before England pulled away to their halftime lead. Cecil Africa got them back into contention with a try and conversion shortly after half-time and Lubabalo Mtembu scored the match-winning try for Paul Treu’s men.

The team also won bronze at last year’s World Games in Taiwan.

The semi-final against Australia had all started so promisingly when Ryno Benjamin broke through a tackle near the line in the second minute and went over, with Afrika adding the conversion for 7-0.

However, in the fourth minute, Australia struck back and then on the stroke of half-time they went ahead (10-7).

Three minutes into the second half the Aussies again crossed the whitewash for their third try, this time it was converted, and from then on they made their tackles and the inexperienecd and injury-hit South Africans didn’t have an answer as the clock ran down.

Earlier, Treu’s team gave its supporters a scare before reaching the semi-finals. They beat Scotland 10-7 after trailing 7-5 at the break and it was only a desperate last-minute tackle by Benjamin that saved the Sevens team from crashing out at the quarter-final stage.

Paul Delport, the captain, had put South Africa 5-0 up after just two minutes with a lovely dummy and jink down the left-hand touchline but any notion this could be a walk in the park was dispelled when Scotland struck back with a try under the posts after the hooter.

With four minutes remaining, Benjamin finished off a move in the right corner after the Scots defence finally crumbled, but the Scots broke through several tackles and looked set to snatch victory inside the final minute before Benjamin again make the crucial tackle with a try looking likely.