After a 14-5 stumble against Great Britain in their opening match, the Blitzboks overpowered Kenya 27-12 and then outplayed current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions Australia 19-12 to finish top of the pool and, in the words of assistant coach Philip Snyman, "restored the pride in the jersey".
Snyman, himself a former Blitzbok captain, was full of praise for the performance of the players, especially after the opening match, which saw the snapping of South Africa’s 18-game winning streak in Dubai.
"We had a serious discussion amongst ourselves after the loss (against Great Britain),” said Snyman.
“The standard delivered was not the standard expected. We agreed there and then that it was not what this jersey was about. Credit to everyone who stepped up afterwards and gave us something to be proud of.
"Beating Australia, the number one team in the world, in the way we did, was great. I think we restored the pride back into the jersey," added Snyman, who won three World Series titles as a player.
The match against Australia started in the perfect fashion for the Blitzboks. Australia conceded two early yellow cards, one due to a professional infringement and the other due to a high tackle, and were made to pay for that.
Siviwe Soyizwapi, who just missed out on a try moments earlier when he was tackled into touch, dotted down soon after and JC Pretorius added a second to open a 12-0 lead in no time. Australia are not World Series champions for nothing though and once they had their numbers back, wore down the Bok defence to score just before the break.
They also scored first in the second half to level matters with five minutes to play. Dalvon Blood sealed the deal with a first try in Dubai, after a lovely move to the left with the Blitzboks wing showing a decisive turn of speed that finished with him dotting down under the sticks. Branco du Preez kicked a 464th career conversion and the Boks could celebrate a well-deserved win.
Earlier, against Kenya, the Blitzboks scored five tries against two in their clash with the Kenyans, which put them back in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.
They started strongly, scoring three tries in the opening half for a 17-0 lead and then kept Kenya in check in the second half to keep their ambitions in the tournament alive.
JC Pretorius had a very strong opening seven minutes, opening the scoring and then setting up another try for Impi Visser, with a Ryan Oosthuizen five-pointer sandwiched by the two Pretorius interventions.
The second half started perfectly with Dewald Human scoring from the restart and although Kenya managed to pull back two tries, there was much delight for the team when debutant Ricardo Duarttee dotted down for the first time in the green and gold.
In their first match against Great Britain, both teams scored all their points in the first half, with defences holding sway against the attack after the break.
Great Britain started best and had the early momentum. They managed an early try when Freddie Roddick waltzed through after a sustained period of possession, attack and pressure and finally the Blitzboks defence gave way.
The South Africans could not get hands on the ball for a number of reasons, one of them conceding penalties at the breakdown. That enabled the British side to build phase after phase.
The Blitzboks finally got hands on the ball late in the half and from a flowing move, Pretorius found space on the outside to get their first try in the seventh minute. The conversion went wide and in the last play of the half, the Great Britain team got a second try. The Blitzboks got pinged again on the floor and a quick tap saw Robbie Ferguson dotting down.
The second half saw more possession coming the way of South Africa as coach Sandile Ngcobo started using his bench players, with Duarttee getting his first taste of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series action, but the attack stumbled against a disciplined defence. They fluffed a number of scoring opportunities and it was a frustrated SA side that looked at the scoreboard when the final whistle went.
Saturday's Cup quarter-finals (SA times, all games live on SuperSport):
08h28: Argentina v Ireland
08h50: USA v Australia
09h12: France v New Zealand
09h34: South Africa v Samoa
Springbok Sevens 5 (5) Great Britain 14 (14)
Springbok Sevens - Try: JC Pretorius.
Great Britain - Tries: Freddie Roddick, Robbie Ferguson. Conversions: Tom Emery (2).
Springbok Sevens 27 (17) Kenya 12 (0)
Springbok Sevens - Tries: JC Pretorius, Ryan Oosthuizen, Impi Visser, Dewald Human, Ricardo Duarttee. Conversion: Human.
Kenya - Tries: Anthony Omondi, Denis Abukuse. Conversion: Daniel Taabu.
Springbok Sevens 19 (12), Australia 12 (7)
Springbok Sevens - Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi, JC Pretorius, Dalvon Blood. Conversions: Dewald Human, Branco du Preez.
Australia - Tries: Nathan Lawson, Maurice Longbottom. Conversion: Dietrich Roache.