All Blacks Sevens face Fiji in semifinal

Kurt Baker 1582052605
02am on Monday (NZT).

New Zealand qualified after beating France 12-7 while Fiji swamped Argentina 43-7 in an outstanding display of their potential.

On the other side of the draw the United States forced England to extra time before England won 24-19. They will meet South Africa who beat Scotland 36-5.

Against France, New Zealand were fortunate to concede only one try in the first half during which they had three yellow cards, to Joe Ravouvou (deliberate knock down), Tim Mikkelson (high tackle) and Dylan Collier (neck roll).

France did score after Ravouvou's exit, but determined defence denied them any more opportunities.

Kurt Baker said at halftime the All Blacks Sevens looked at the positives from their first half effort, especially the psychological lift when France opted to kick a runnable ball out to go to halftime.

"For us that was a sign they were trying to hang on rather than trying to win the game. We swung it around and it worked in our favour," he said.

"We were a wee bit inaccurate, even in the second half, but we were all on the same page.

"We regathered ourselves when we needed to and that's all you can ask for," he said.

Restored to full strength for the second half, New Zealand applied pressure and from a scrum out from the French posts, after clever work by Andrew Knewstubb upset French ball to see another scrum set for New Zealand, it was Kurt Baker who ran onto Knewstubb's pass to run in under the posts to level the score.

Almost from the restart, New Zealand gained a penalty and moved the ball quickly to give Ravouvou the space he needed to race along the touchline to score what proved the matchwinner.

France finished strongly as they sought a way through but were guilty of mistakes that turned the ball over and it was a relieved Knewstubb who latched onto another French knock-on to kick the ball to touch to claim the win.

Baker said Fiji would be a big challenge for them in Monday's semifinal.

It wasn't the first time they had played them but they would look at them and some of their new players, and then concentrate on their own approach for the game while discipline would be a key point in their pre-game discussions, he said.

Kurt Baker 1582052605


View all