The Scots had never been to a seven series final before and found themselves 26-15 down in the closing stages before two late tries, both scored by Fife and the second coming after time had expired, delivered a historic success for Calum McRae’s team.
They set up a showdown with the Proteas earlier in the day in similar fashion as another pair of late scores from Fife in the semi-finals saw off the United States, who won at Twickenham 12 months earlier.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Fife told Sky Sports Three afterwards.
“This team have come a long way, we truly believe we can beat anyone on our day and today we showed that. I think we surprised a few people.”
Fiji had already been confirmed as the overall winners of the series having successfully defended their title, yet a team featuring ex-rugby league player Jarryd Hayne, who has converted to the sport following a stint in the NFL, were knocked out at the last-four stage in London by South Africa.
The Scots’ day had started the day with a 17-0 quarter-final success over England, who subsequently lost to New Zealand in the plate semi-finals, before Fife’s semi-final tries saw them progress to a meeting with South Africa.
The Southern Hemisphere nation were 10-7 down at the break in the final after Scott Wight dotted down from an innovative driving maul that caught the South Africans out.
They responded by building up an 11-point lead courtesy of tries from Rosko Specman and Cecil Afrika and, even after James Fleming had somehow held off two would-be tacklers 10 metres out to finish over the line, another try from Specman looked to have killed Scotland off before Fife’s late heroics.
“I’m very, very proud of the guys,” McRae added.
“They put absolutely everything into it; they’re a pleasure to work with week to week. They’re a real honest bunch and it’s nice that the guys get the rewards at the end of today.”