South Africa have snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat in a colossal extra-time final clash against Fiji to claim the Los Angeles Sevens title.

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The final victory is a much-needed one for the South Africans, whose last tournament victory came in December when they won the event in Dubai.

Since then, two final defeats in Cape Town and Sydney sandwiched a shock 10th place finish in Hamilton, but the Neil Powell-coached side overturned their fortunes in thrilling fashion against a rampant Fijian team that ran in three tries in the opening five minutes of the final.

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When Vilimoni Botitu, Sevuloni Mocenacagi and Napolioni Bolaca scorched over for the trio of tries in quick succession, it looked as though Fiji were on track for back-to-back tournament titles after winning in Sydney last month.

However, a response through captain Stedman Gans on the stroke of half-time gave the Blitzboks a glimmer of hope as they headed into the break down 19-7.

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Speedster Selvyn Davids closed the gap further when he capitalised on some quick ruck ball to score early in the second half, but Fiji hit back almost immediately from the re-start when star man Jerry Tuwai dotted down in the corner.

With time running out, a stolen lineout followed by a penalty for a poor tackle laid the platform for Chris Dry to score a vital try in the closing stages to bring the score to 24-17.

Declining the conversion attempt to take the re-start quickly proved to be a masterstroke move by South Africa, who retained possession with mere seconds left on the clock from a high-hanging Branco du Preez kick-off.

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It was Du Preez, who came on as a substitute for Davids in the final minute of regulation time, who stole the show for the Blitzboks, as he drew in a couple of defenders and stretched out for an injury time try in the wake of Waisea Nacuqu’s yellow card for a high tackle.

Du Preez slotted the long range conversion to send the match to extra-time, which started in Fiji’s favour after South Africa were pinged for a breakdown infringement.

The men in green redeemed themselves, though, as they ploughed through a Fijian ruck to win the ball back, and some patient build-up play eventually allowed substitute Sakoyisa Makata to run in the decisive try unopposed to clinch an unlikely victory.

The win keeps South Africa hot on the heels of World Sevens Series leaders New Zealand, who beat Australia in the bronze final to finish third and maintain their place at the top of the overall standings.

Fiji, meanwhile, have moved up two places to slot into third place, overtaking defeated quarter-finalists France and England in the process.

The World Sevens Series now moves to Vancouver, which will host the sixth leg of the series next weekend.

World Sevens Series Standings

1 – New Zealand (93 pts)

2 – South Africa (89)

3 – Fiji (72)

4 – France (67)

5 – England (64)

6 – Australia (62)

7 – USA (60)

8 – Argentina (53)

9 – Ireland (45)

10 – Canada (40)

11 – Kenya (29)

12 – Scotland (29)

13 – Samoa (28)

14 – Spain (23)

15 – Wales (11)

16 – Japan (9)

17 – South Korea (1)

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