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New Zealand beat USA 21-5 to win the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Sydney and move top of the overall standings after four events.
The All Blacks Sevens were ruthless throughout the final, striking first and refusing to let go. Vilimoni Koroi played an effortlessly magical offload to Regan Ware on the left wing and his side took the lead.
After his side displayed some resolute defending, Sam Dickson doubled the lead on the stroke of half time, New Zealand capitalising on a collision between the USA’s Folau Niua and Danny Barrett.
Tone Ng Shiu put the result out of reach with a stunning dummy, selling Barrett to run clear. Brett Thompson gave his USA side hope with a score of his own, but it was too little, too late, and New Zealand claimed the trophy.
The USA have now lost all four finals this season but are level on points with New Zealand at the top of the overall standings. This is New Zealand’s second win of the season after their triumph in Dubai in November.
New Zealand captain Sione Molia said: “It’s awesome and takes us one step closer to our goal which is to win the World Series. It was a really tough battle against a really tough USA team. We stuck to what we knew best and just executed it.”
HSBC Player of the Final Dickson said: “I thought there were guys who played better. My team-mates deserve all the credit – Sione Molia and Regan Ware and especially all the boys that got injured this weekend and last week who played a huge part.
“I’m just stoked we could win it after disappointing Hamilton where we lost in the semis. We got them back tonight. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on culture and we pride ourselves on our whole squad, players dig deep and everyone is stepping up when people get injured.”
ENGLAND TAKE BRONZE
England finished third for the first time this season after beating Fiji 19-17, with Apenisa Cakaubalavu scoring a hat-trick in vain. Fiji trailed 19-0 when Cakaubalavu’s quickfire double made for a nervy finish, but his third score came after the full-time hooter.
Tom Bowen ran in two glorious first half tries to put England in command. Harry Glover found him on the right wing for his first before a lovely long ball from Tom Mitchell set Bowen up to beat Alasio Naduva with ease. Will Muir added a third just after half-time to give England breathing room before the nervy finale.
Fiji beat Australia in the first quarter-final in a match which could easily have served as the final. Maurice Longbottom put the hosts ahead but appeared to injure his hamstring in the process. He was withdrawn and Fiji hit back instantly, Terio Veilawa cutting open Australia on the inside. Mesulame Kunavala added a second before being sin binned, allowing Jeral Skelton to showcase his fancy footwork. Jesse Parahi and Alasio Naduva exchanged tries before Naduva stole victory on the stroke of the final hooter.
But Fiji were eliminated in bizarre circumstances against New Zealand, playing at one point with five men after Sevuloni Mocenacagi saw red and Meli Derenalagi was sent to the sin bin. Mocenacagi was red carded for lifting Scott Gregory above the horizontal while Derenalagi went for a late tackle. Gregory added to Ng Shiu’s early score with Kurt Baker and Koroi adding a pair of tries against the depleted Fijians.
England made a fast start in their semi-final against USA, with Dan Norton strolling in a try. But they responded quickly with Barrett applying sustained pressure as Steve Tomasin levelled up, before Ben Pinkleman scored the winning try just before half-time.
England had earlier convincingly seen off South Africa in the quarter-final, with Charlton Kerr, Mitchell, Phil Burgess and Bowen running in tries in a 26-5 victory.
New Zealand cruised past France in the quarter-finals, running in four tries, while USA came from behind to thump Spain. Madison Hughes and Tomasin completed doubles in a 38-10 win after Javier Carrion had put Spain ahead.
FIFTH FOR SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa beat Australia 12-10 in a brutal rematch of the Pool D match to finish fifth in Sydney. It was an aggressive game throughout, with plenty of full-blooded tackles, but it was won in the final seconds by Kyle Brown, dotting down in the corner.
South Africa went ahead early through Selvyn Davids, who took a quick tap penalty and sprinted from inside his own half to complete the try. Nick Malouf, Australia’s hero of Saturday night, inflicted a powerful hit on Justin Geduld in the build-up to John Porch’s try before adding one himself to put Australia in front.
Earlier, Jeral Skelton produced some last-ditch heroics to send Australia to the 5th place play-off. His side trailed France 14-5 with three minutes remaining thanks to Pierre Mignot and Pierre Boudehent, but Skelton shrugged off two defenders for his first try and threw a beautiful dummy to beat the backline for his second.
South Africa had no trouble brushing aside Spain, with Davids and Siviwe Soyizwapi running in two tries each in addition to Dewald Human’s score.
ARGENTINA LIFT CHALLENGE TROPHY
Argentina made up for their disappointment at missing out on the Cup quarter-finals by beating Japan 10-7 in the Challenge Trophy final.
Luciano Gonzalez opened the scoring before Katsuyuki Sakai’s converted try gave Japan the lead. Santiago Alvarez’s yellow card did little to open up Argentina, with him returning after the break and the Pumas hitting next to win the game. Fernando Luna dotted down in the corner to complete the victory.
Luke Treharne missed a conversion with the last kick of the game to let Japan progress to the Challenge Trophy final. Wales needed a converted try to draw level and set themselves up for a grandstand finish with Joe Goochild’s try in a move that started inside their own half.
Argentina took an early semi-final lead against Canada and refused to relinquish it, with Luna (2), Lautaro Bazan Velez and Jake Thiel all running in tries.
SOURCE: WORLD RUGBY/PACNEWS
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