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All Blacks Sevens aim to learn quickly for Hamilton

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Lynn McConnell     29 Jan 2018     Getty Images

Coach Clark Laidlaw saw the fighting qualities in his squad when they beat Fiji 31-7 in the playoff for fifth place having lost to them in pool play. It was a result which when added to South Africa's loss to Australia in the final, meant New Zealand were still in second place on the overall series table four points behind South Africa.

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Laidlaw said it was pleasing to finish off with fifth place after the disappointment of their quarterfinal loss to Australia.

"There were a few areas that we had a really good look at and chat about after that game and then to come back a beat a good England team and beat Fiji by a good margin was really encouraging in the early stages of our development. It's only our third tournament together so it's given us something to build on for next week," he said.

The side hadn't adapted well enough against an Australian side that came up with a few different tactics in the quarterfinal.

"We need to be smarter when the game is changing on us, our leaders and drivers need to respond to that quickly and it's hard to coach that. You've got to go through a few results like that to get better," he said.

South Africa, last year's champions and the favourites this year, had shown the benefit of consistency and that was important in a tight series where any one of eight or nine teams could win a tournament.

"That's why you've got to be up all the time. Little slip-ups like we had this morning cost us an opportunity to win the tournament," he said.

The side were excited about heading home and playing in Hamilton's first tournament at the weekend, it was an hour away from their Bay of Plenty base so it felt like a home tournament.
But the remainder of the series was about building their game before the series end in April.

"We've still got a long way to go," he said.

Captain Scott Curry said it was very pleasing to bounce back and claim fifth place, especially after having lost to Fiji in their pool game.

"To learn from that and come back and beat them pretty convincingly, we're happy with how we finished. Obviously we don't want to be playing for fourth or fifth place so hopefully we'll go a little better next weekend in Hamilton," he said.

New Zealand had been a little bit off in their quarterfinal while Australia had played well.

"You can't be off in sevens, you've got to be up for six games over the weekend and we were a little bit off for that one and they're a good team and they punished us.

"It just takes a few key moments and they took it," he said.

"We're looking forward to Hamilton, a home tournament, it's the first time it's been there and they're expecting a pretty good crowd so we're looking forward to that.

"We're just focusing on improving our game now and the little details in our game, and our defence and our attack both sides of the ball so if we can try and get those right we should be all right," he said.