New Zealand’s golden reign at the Commonwealth Games is over after they were toppled 17-12 by South Africa in the final yesterday.
Three unanswered tries to the Blitzbokke through the game’s middle stages proved decisive against a New Zealand side who slumped to their knees when the full-time whistle sounded.
faster South African side scored three tries to two to end a New Zealand streak of 30 successive match wins and four gold medals at the four Games where sevens has been contested.
In slippery conditions, a mistake-prone New Zealand end a momentous season with a silver medal.
It adds to this year’s World Cup triumph and another world series title.
South Africa were more secure with possession and boasted greater pace and guile, with playmaker Cecil Afrika and wing Seabelo Senatla the standouts.
Senatla scored their first two tries to give him a tournament-high 11 for the tournament.
His team made the worst possible start when they lost captain Kyle Brown to an early shoulder injury before conceding a try to Sherwin Stowers.
The match swung near the end of the first half when Bryce Heem was shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away.
A one-man advantage helped South Africa send Senatla over to level the scores 7-7 at halftime.
Senatla crossed again two minutes after the break, his startling accelerating leaving the New Zealand defence grasping.
South African team flagbearer Afrika pushed his team clear when he scooted 40m on an angled run.
Replacement Joe Webber scored for New Zealand and they looked poised to snatch a late result when they forced an attacking scrum with 10sec remaining.
However, Akira Ioane spilled a pass to mark the end of an era.
Australia won the bronze medal play-off 24-0 over Samoa.
Earlier on Saturday New Zealand staved of the Australians and quarter-final opponents Kenya by the same 19-7 scoreline.
Ben Lam scored a double against Kenya and Scott Curry repeated that effort against Australia in a tense semi-final.
South Africa had been less pressed in beating Scotland 35-12, then Samoa 35-7.
The other quarter-finals saw Australia scrape past Wales 21-19 while Samoa pipped England 15-14.