New Zealand back on Sevens winning trail

The New Zealand Sevens team confirmed they are back on the winning trail by defeating old foes Fiji 21-12 on Saturday to emerge victorious from the South Africa leg of the IRB World Series.

It was the second success in as many weeks for the men in black on the eight-round 2009/10 circuit after the traditional masters of the abbreviated version of rugby union failed to win a tournament last year.

Winning in Dubai and the Western Cape town of George gives New Zealand 48 points going into the Christmas break and a 12-point advantage over Fiji, with Samoa third a further eight points back after two rounds.

A Ben Souness try converted by Tomasi Cama gave New Zealand a 7-0 half-time lead at Outeniqua Park, and when a try by veteran forward-cum-skipper DC Forbes soon after the break was converted the advantage doubled.

An Osea Kolinisau try converted by William Ryder cut the deficit in half only for a Save Tokula try to put the eight-time world champions back in control of the final.

Ryder completed the scoring with a late try he failed to convert, leaving the Kiwis with an unassailable nine-point advantage as time ticked away on a warm evening in the tourist town.

Long-serving New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens praised his 12-man squad, which is a mix of youth and experience, after a third success in four George finals against the talented but error-prone Fijians.

“The final was different from our two previous matches in that we took the lead and stayed ahead. Captain Forbes led by example and younger members of the squad can only learn from him.

“We have made the perfect start with two victories after a terrible time last year. There is a long way to go but we will take it one tournament at a time and give it our best shot,” he promised.

New Zealand overcame a 14-point deficit to pip England 22-19 in the quarterfinals after finishing only second in their group following a first-match loss to Samoa on Friday in a repeat of the Dubai decider.

The Kiwis conceded a 13-second try to Kenya in the semifinals and trailed by nine points at half-time before another recovery delivered a 17-14 triumph, with Zar Lawrence snatching the crucial third try.

Defending World Series champions South Africa failed to get beyond the last eight for the second consecutive weekend, losing 21-17 to Fiji, and the host nation also flopped in the Plate final against England.—AFP


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