BlitzBok slide continues, as New Zealand wins
WELLING DAY TWO WRAP: South Africa’s dramatic slide down the Sevens World Series rankings continued, as New Zealand won the third leg of the global circuit on Sunday.
The Kiwis opened a substantial lead at the top of the standings with a 27-5 thumping of an indisciplined France in a one-sided Final in Hamilton on Sunday.
New Zealand, who shared the lead with South Africa after the opening two tournaments back in December, is now 15 points clear at the top with 63 out of a possible 66 points.
The BlitzBoks, who had possibly their worst tournament in a decade, slipped down to a share of second place with France – on 48 points.
England (39), Argentina and Australia (both 35) lead a distant chasing pack.
Cup Final: New Zealand 27-5 France
New Zealand produced an emphatic victory over France to claim their home contest for the first time in four years.
Co-captain Tim Mikkelson said it was important for morale to improve their home record.
“We haven’t gone that well in the last couple of years, so we owed it to our crowd and our families,” he said.
“The boys were clinical and the boys that came on at the end did the job and we came away with the victory.”
Scott Curry put New Zealand on the board with a try in the second minute when France dangerman Tavite Veredamu was spending early time in the sin-bin.
Veredamu was no sooner back on the field when he scored the only try for France.
Regan Ware scored New Zealand’s second try right on half-time when France were again down a man with captain Jonathan Laugel yellow-carded.
Ware and Curry (twice) scored again in the second half.
New Zealand reached the final without dropping a game – beating Wales, the United States and Scotland in their pool and rallying from 5-14 down to beat Australia 17-14 in their semifinal.
France, like Australia, disproved the pre-tournament theory that the decision to scrap the quarterfinals, with pool winners progressing directly to the semis, meant there was no room for error.
Both reached the final four on points differential – France finished Pool C level with Canada with two wins and a draw while Australia were in a three-way tie with Fiji and Argentina with one loss each in Pool D.
Third place: England 21-33 Australia
Australian produced their best result of the current World Series, finishing in third place in Hamilton on Sunday.
Australia made it into the semifinals on points difference in a tough Pool D battle and then fell to tournament hosts New Zealand in the semifinal.
In the bronze medal match, Australia took control early against England and continued to apply pressure on the old enemy, as they built a strong lead.
Australia never looked threatened by England as they won the match 33-21.
“This tournament has shown the real character of this team with two tough losses,” Australian coach Tim Walsh said.
“However the squad bounced back and put ourselves into the top four.
“We played well with some excellent individual performances and we will continue to be better throughout the season.
“Finishing with such a wet sail against England shows that we are building well and the way we managed to attack the game was really pleasing.
“Josh [turner] had an outstanding weekend in the gold jersey, the way he continued to find space and back up for his teammates was second to none.
“Heading into our home tournament next weekend we have a really opportunity to continue to improve and gain some valuable Series points.”
England 5-10 France
New Zealand 17-14 Australia
Play-offs for minor places
Canada 28-7 United States (Fifth)
Argentina 19-17 Kenya (Seventh)
Fiji 12-5 South Africa (Ninth)
Ireland 19-24 Scotland (11th)
Japan 15-19 Spain (13th)
Samoa 21-7 Wales (15th)
Final pool matches:
Canada 21-14 Spain
France 17-7 Ireland
England 26-7 Japan
South Africa 14-36 Kenya
Australia 33-19 Samoa
Fiji 10-26 Argentina
United States 42-0 Wales
New Zealand 38-12 Scotland