Four year wait over for All Blacks Sevens

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It was New Zealand's first home final since 2016, and its first success in Hamilton, and its third final of three in the 2019-20 World Series for two wins and a runners-up award.

 

After upset losses involving close rivals South Africa and Fiji earlier in the tournament, New Zealand finished with a 15-point lead after three rounds of the series. They are on 63 points. South Africa and France share second on 48, England are fourth on 39, Argentina and Australia share fifth on 35 points, Fiji are seventh on 31, the United States are eighth on 30 with Canada ninth on 26 and Kenya 10th on 25.

 

Two early infringements by France in the final, the second resulting in a yellow card to Tavite Veredamu, saw Ngarohi McGarvey-Black fed the ball to the right from a ruck for captain Scott Curry (pictured) to charge through the defence to open the scoring.

 

But the restart was kicked out on the full and with Veredamu back on the field, France made a strong break and when the ball went to ground on the flank Veredamu was able to bend down and secure the ball to score.

 

After the halftime whistle had sounded, French captain Jonathan Laugel was sin-binned for a neck roll on Curry and New Zealand spun the ball with Regan Ware crossing in the corner for New Zealand to turn up 12-7.

French indiscipline continued into the second half where an untidy French lineout tap skewed into touch. New Zealand attempted to play a quick lineout and created an opening but Curry's pass to Ware was ruled forward as a try looked likely.

 

But after a French penalty failed to find touch, due to McGarvey-Black's effort to flick the ball from midair and back into the field, the ball was moved and Ware was able to get the try denied him moments earlier.

 

With less than minute to run Dylan Collier took the play to the line and drew the defence before releasing to Curry who scored. Curry backed up moments later after a stunning run by Vilimoni Koroi to set up play, under penalty advantage, beneath the goalposts and quick hands saw Curry across.

 

The second day in Hamilton had something for everyone, and it was all good for New Zealand's positioning in the overall standings.

 

South Africa, who shared the overall lead with New Zealand going into Hamilton, found their loss 19-21 to England on day one proved costly as England wrapped up a semifinal berth from their pool by beating Japan. Then to erase all doubt, Kenya thrashed the Blitzboks 36-14 for a memorable win.

Fiji compounded South Africa's woes by claming a 12-5 win in their playoff for ninth place.

 

Fiji were left with plenty to ponder as well after being beaten by Argentina. The South Americans got out to a 21-0 lead and the Fijians were never able to recover and they finally went down 28-10. That loss was enough to allow Australia to claim a semifinal berth against the All Blacks Sevens.

 

But it wasn't easy progress for New Zealand who were down by nine points against Australia at halftime. However, Ware and Dylan Collier scored twice to ensure a 17-14 win.

 

The All Blacks Sevens had scored first through McGarvey-Black when Joe Webber slipped a pass to Curry who had doubled around him in support from a scrum. Racing into space through midfield he linked with McGarvey-Black who headed to the corner, but not before unleashing a strong fend on an Australian defender, to score.

 

Nick Malouf and Harry Hutchison scored tries within a minute of each other, both of them converted, to secure a 14-5 lead at the turn. But after Ware and Collier scored the defence was sound enough to hold Australia out.

 

Sam Dickson said afterwards the New Zealanders had shown a lot of maturity in the win.

 

"We were down and out for a little bit there. Credit to the Aussies they brought a lot of heat here in our home tournament and we managed to stay composed and finish it like the good team we are," he said.

 

Earlier, New Zealand completed their pool play with a 38-12 win over Scotland. Scotland were in the game for the first 10 minutes but then the home team powered away.

 

Tim Mikkelson scored the first of New Zealand's tries with Robbie Fergusson replied for Scotland. Tone Ng Shiu reclaimed the lead for New Zealand and then Mikkelson and Collier scored within a minute of each other. Ross McCanne got one back for Scotland but Curry and Vilimoni Koroi finished with tries.

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