All Black Sevens one win away from World Series Title

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Making the final of the penultimate tournament will secure New Zealand the title ahead of Argentina despite the Pumas also reaching the last four when they play Canada.

New Zealand will play France at 11:54pm NZT after the hosts defeated Great Britain 17-12 in the quarter-finals. France topped Pool C with wins over South Africa (31-7), the USA (19-14), and Fiji (24-19).

The All Black Sevens thrashed Ireland 35-0 in the quarter-finals. After a shaky start which saw Jordan Conroy (106 tries in 133 matches) drop the ball over the line, New Zealand regrouped and produced their best display of the tournament.

Following staunch defense inside the 22, Moses Leo galloped 80 meters for the first try. He added a second a short time later receiving a pass, unmarked, on the right wing from Akuila Rokolisoa whose flair was delightful and rewarded with the third first-half try.

The injection of Roderick Solo from the bench has often been a source of energy and profit. The Wellington youngster created a try for the busy Brady Rush and then unselfishly passed to Scott Curry with a vacant line ahead. Curry in his 55th tournament has 121 tries.

In their final pool match, the All Blacks Sevens were given a mighty fright by Uruguay winning 14-12. Though they never trailed though it was an unusually sloppy performance against the spirited South Americans who’ve toppled Fiji and South Africa this season.

New Zealand opened the scoring when Leroy Carter handled three times in a movement inside both 22s before Rush took a bouncing ball in one hand and fended off a single opponent to cross. Uruguay enjoyed a mountain of possession and was rewarded when Ignacio Facciolo muscled over to make it 7-5 at halftime.

In the second half discipline was a major liability for New Zealand and with two and half minutes remaining Leo was sin-binned after a sustained defensive examination.  

Uruguay scores 47% of their tries from set-piece this season and had a lineout inside the New Zealand 22. A wayward throw was pilfered a Regan Ware, collecting an awkwardly bouncing ball, and he sprinted 60 meters before transferring in one arm to Solo who strolled clear with his first touch. The effort of Ware was an example of baking a cake with crumbs. Two conversions from Tepaea Cook-Savage were crucial. Uruguay scored on full-time with Koba Brazionis cleverly put in a hole.

The Black Ferns Sevens had a routine 29-7 win over Japan in the quarter-finals. It was largely one-way traffic with the size of the Kiwis particularly demanding for Japan who conceded two tightheads in the scrum and fell off several tackles. Portia Woodman-Wickliffe opened the scoring shrugging off high and low defenders after three minutes. Tyla Nathan-Wong capitalised on the Japanese scrum woes to stride 40 meters clear, and it was 12-0 at halftime following her conversion in front.

The smile of Stacey Waaka was beaming in the second half when she raced away for her 27th try this season. Risi Pouri-Lane was clinical around the base of the ruck and scored two tries, including the last of the match.

The Black Ferns beat Canada 28-7 in their final pool match. Sabrina Pullen stung the Black Ferns early with a first-minute try but the World Series champions regrouped quickly with three first-half tries to Jorja Miller (2) and Waaka, Sarah Hirini had the last say.

The Black Ferns have won 34 matches in a row. The series record is 37 and the national record 50. They play France (who beat Australia 19-12 in pool play) in the semi-finals at 8:06pm after the hosts beat Great Britain 28-10. The other semi-features Australia and USA at 7:44pm NZT.


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