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NZ back on top of Sevens world

Sun, 30 Mar 2014 06:04
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BlunderBokke wins Plate
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New Zealand reclaimed first place on the IRB Sevens World Series when they beat England 26-7 in the Hong Kong Final on Sunday.

The Kiwis outclassing England in an action-packed grand finale.

The win, inspired by captain DJ Forbes, puts them back on top of the Series standings, seven ahead of South Africa - who won the Plate - with Fiji a further 17 points behind having finished third as the defending champions in So Kon Po.

"It is a great feeling," said an elated Kiwi coach Gordon Tietjens.

"My captain lead so well from the front, he was simply amazing. And also the other players linked in with him, we played a good final.

"That puts us back on top now, it’s topsy-turvy now which means we need to start well in Scotland, but this will certainly help in going towards winning that title."

New Zealand's passes stuck throughout the game with their enterprising attacking play and stifling defence key to a victory which sees them re-gain the lead atop the Sevens World Series standings.

New Zealand took the early lead through an impressive effort from Ben Lam, who managed to beat three England defenders in getting to the line.

England struggled to get into the game due to several costly errors and they were soon 12 behind after Tim Mikkelson stepped inside Tom Mitchell to score New Zealand's second.

England managed to gain a reprieve going into halftime however, as a moment of individual brilliance from Tom Powell sent the sides to the sheds with the score at 12-7.

New Zealand regained their control at the start of the second half, with good interplay leading to a wide pass to captain DJ Forbes, who would not be denied his 119th IRB World Series try.

Soon after Ben Lam had been denied a second try by the officials, the Auckland wing was handed a yellow card for throwing the ball away.

However, this was a mere blip for New Zealand as Sherwin Stowers set up Sam Dickson to score a try which underlined New Zealand's dominance and all but ended England's chance of victory.

* South Africa, who took the lead from the Kiwis after last week's Japan leg, managed to salvage some pride when they beat Wales 19-14 in an error-riddle Plate Final.

Despite taking an early lead, with a Jamba Ulengo try inside the first minute, but then became their own worst enemies. Ross Jones got Wales on the board with a well-worked try, before Jason Harries pounced on one of the Springboks' numerous first-half blunders to give the Welsh a 14-5 lead at the break.

Albertus Smith got the Boks back into the game with a great try 35 seconds into the second half - as he ran the Welsh defence ragged, seeing off three opponents and then cutting inside with the ensuing space. Ulengo then scored his second, giving SA a 19-14 lead with three minutes remaining.

The Welsh, frustrated by a mounting penalty count, added a spiteful edge to their game - which ultimately cost them a chance of snatching a late win.

"It was important for us to win that," said head coach Neil Powell, who lost captain Kyle Brown to injury on Day One.

"We knew when we lost to England in the quarterfinal we needed to win the Plate to get as many points on the Series log."

* Japan defeated Italy 26-5 in the Final of the World Series qualifier, to book their place on next season's IRB Sevens World Series as a core side.

After victory over Russia in the semifinals of the qualifier competition at the Hong Kong Sevens, captain Katsuyuki Sakai scored 11 points in the victory against Andy Vilk's Italy.

"We can't put it into words, now everyone knows Japan can compete at the world level," said an elated Lomano Lemeki after the full-time whistle.

"We are excited to show what we can do on the next Series. Japan has not been able to compete on the world level until recently and now this is the first step. There is a lot to come from Japanese rugby."

* Earlier England beat two-time defending champions Fiji in the Cup semifinals. Simon Amor, who was playing in the England team that last won a title in So Kon Po in 2006, helped setting up a Final showdown with Gordon Tietjens' New Zealand who beat Australia 19-7 in their semifinal.

Tries from Tom Powell and Marcus Watson, as well as a penalty from captain Tom Mitchell secured the 17-7 victory, while Gillies Kaka scored 14 of New Zealand's 19 points.

* Earlier in the quarterfinals captain Osea Kolinisau scored twice as Fiji beat the United States 17-5, before Dan Norton and Jack Clifford scored in England 14-7 win over the Series leaders South Africa.

New Zealand beat Wales 28-5 thanks to 13 points from Gillies Kaka while Paul Asquith stole the headlines, scoring the winning try for Australia in the 14-12 win against Canada.

All the Day Three results:

Cup Final:
England 7-26 New Zealand

Third-place play-off:
Fiji 21-12 Australia

Plate Final:
South Africa 19-14 Wales

Bowl Final:
Scotland 31-5 France

Shield Final:
Kenya 17-10 Portugal

Cup semifinals:
New Zealand 19-7 Australia
Fiji 7-17 England

Plate semifinals:
Wales 31-14 Canada
United States 19-24 South Africa

Bowl semifinals:
Samoa 5-38 France
Scotland 24-12 Argentina

Shield semifinals:
Sri Lanka 19-24 Portugal
Kenya 12-7 Spain

Cup quarterfinals:
Australia 14-12 Canada
New Zealand 28-5 Wales
England 14-7 South Africa
Fiji 17-5 United States

Bowl quarterfinals:
France 19-14 Portugal
Samoa 33-14 Sri Lanka
Argentina 7-5 Spain
Kenya 12-26 Scotland

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