South Africa are Commonwealth Games rugby sevens champions at both senior and under-18 level after the young Blitzbokke beat Australia 31-20 in the final of the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games in Apia, Samoa.
Looking to repeat the success of the senior national team at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and go one better than their runners-up finish in the Isle of Man four years ago, South Africa raced into a 24-5 half-time lead courtesy of tries by captain Heino Bezuidenhout, Embrose Papier and Francois Agenbag.
Australia fought back strongly after the break, scoring 15 unanswered points to move within four of South Africa's tally with three minutes left on the clock. But any hopes of a complete turnaround were ended when Agenbag bagged his second converted try to seal gold for South Africa.
"It was a great game of footy but we probably didn't play at our best in that first half - one or two things didn't go our way but you have to cop that on the chin," said Australia coach Hugh Carpenter.
"You've got to start well in a game of Sevens, especially against a side like South Africa but that's the way it goes sometimes. Josh (Coward) was outstanding when he came on and really turned it for us in the second half. It wasn't to be today but you only have to look at these boys play to know the future of Australian rugby is very bright."
South Africa defeated Samoa 29-0 in the semi-final after earlier wins over Namibia, Singapore and England, while Australia saw off Samoa, Fiji and the Cayman Islands in the regular competiton before sweeping to a 26-7 victory over England in the last four.
Hosts Samoa at least finished the competition on a high when they went on to beat England 12-10 in the bronze medal decider.
In the women's competition, Australia added to their Youth Olympics title from 14 months ago to clinically dispose of Canada 36-5.
The Australia girls dominated their Canadian opponents from the outset in their gold medal match, try-machine Jayme Fressard dotting down for her 12th and 13th tries of the tournament as they opened up an unassailable 24-point lead in the first 10 minutes. Canada pulled five points back with a try of their own before Demi Hayes scored her second and and Emma Sykes finished the job off on the siren
"Being named flag bearer for the team, named captain, and then winning a gold medal - it just hasn't sunk in yet. I'll definitely remember this week for the rest of my life.," said Australia's Laura Waldie.
Fiji won the bronze medal after a 22-17 victory over the Cook Islands in the third-place play-off.
Growing the game
By hosting the fifth edition of the Youth Commonwealth Games, Samoan rugby - and Pacific rugby in general - was able to showcase the advances being made in the region.
"Having an event of the importance of the Commonwealth Youth Games in the region, and especially in the Pacific islands, is a great privilege and very exciting not only for rugby, but all sport in the region," commented World Rugby's Will Glenwright.
"Rugby continues to grow in the region – especially at youth level – and so to have rugby participating in the Youth Commonwealth Games is hugely important for us,” he said.
"We have recently hit 40,000 participants for the year in the Get into Rugby programme in the Pacific Islands, which targets boys and girls from 6-16 years. This reflects a growing appetite for organised youth rugby in the region and we’re seeing significant demand in countries such as American Samoa, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea which is particularly pleasing."
Click HERE for results from the Youth Commonwealth Games rugby sevens competition.
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