Sheevas Dayal –
Three late tries, one after the final hooter, saw New Zealand fight back to beat South Africa 24-21 in the Cup final at the Wellington Sevens, the third leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series on January 31, 2016.
This was New Zealand’s first win on the 2015-2016 circuit and saw them move up to third position on the table behind South Africa and Fiji.
The All Blacks Sevens also won the Tournament held in Sydney (February 6 & 7, 2016) beating Australia 27-24 full time.
Wellington was buzzing with talks of the All Blacks Sevens making its debut at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (August 6 to 11, 2016).
Team under pressure
The boys in Black were determined not to give up when they were down by 14 points in the second half. The pep talk from Coach Sir Gorden Tietjens inspired them to spring back into action.
Captain Tim Mikkelson said that the New Zealand team put itself under pressure but knew that it can win if they got the ball in their hands.
“We talked all week that we needed a lot of heart, a lot of ticker. Flanker Liam Messam talked about putting the mana (pride) back in the jersey as he did for the Chiefs after the last two tournaments. That is what we wanted to do,” he told Indian Newslink.
South Africa leads
Team South Africa, which went into the Wellington round as joint leaders with Fiji, dominated much of the final and was up 21-7 early in the second half.
Captain Philip Snyman and Rosko Specman scored in the first half with Akira Ioane replying for New Zealand.
Ioane also pulled off a try-saving tackle when Specman was bundled out in the corner on the stroke of half-time as South Africa turned with a 14-7 lead.
They moved further when Seabelo Senatla pounced on a misdirected offload by Sonny Bill Williams early in the second spell with Cheslin Kolbe adding his third conversion.
But after Specman was yellow-carded, New Zealand moved up a gear.
Reiko Ioane scored twice in quick succession before Joe Webber capped off a length of the field move to score the winning try.
The home team was not tested through the knockout rounds, beating Kenya 36-0 and then England 25-5.
South Africa, after a 26-14 win over Australia in the quarter-finals, beat Fiji in a bruising semi-final 31-0 with two Fijian players, Semi Kunatani and Vatemo Ravouvou, yellow-carded in the second half.
The only changes to the New Zealand Sevens side for the Sydney Sevens is Waikato’s Dylan Collier replacing Sam Dickson, who sustained a minor hip injury in Wellington.
The Super Rugby and All Blacks stars remain for the inaugural Sydney Seven.
Sonny Bill Williams, Ardie Savea, Ben Lam, Akira and Rieko Ioane, retain their places in the side, as does magical Augustine Pulu.
The Score Board
Finals Results: Shield final: France 14 – 7 Russia; Bowl final: Scotland 7 – 19 Samoa
Plate final: Argentina 5 – 21 Australia; Bronze final: England 12 – 24 Fiji; Cup final:
New Zealand 24 – 21 South Africa
Las Vegas: March 4 to 6, 2016; Vancouver: March 12 & 13, 2016; Hong Kong: April 8 to 10, 2016; Singapore: April 16 & 17, 2016; Paris: May 13 to 15, 2016; London: May 21 & 22, 2016; Olympics in Rio de Janeiro: August 6 to 11, 2016
- Our Reporter Sheevas Dayal with Coach Sir Gorden Tietjens
- The All Blacks Sevens with the Cup