Dubai Sevens: New Zealand takes gold
FINAL WRAP: New Zealand ended a nine-year wait for another title in Dubai.
They last tasted victory at this season-opener back in 2009.
The Kiwis beat the United States 21-5 in a Final that was closer than the final scoreline suggests.
This start to the 2018-19 Sevens World Series continues a stellar 2018 for the Kiwis – after a Commonwealth Games Gold and the World Cup Sevens title.
Next week the roadshow moves to Cape Town for Round Two of the World Series.
Cup Final: New Zealand 21-5 United States
There was an early penalty against New Zealand’s Ngarohi McGarvey Black for holding on, which gave the United States the chance for a set-piece move.
They kicked to touch and found their man at the lineout well. A second infringement, from McGarvey Black, compounded the error before a rip gets them out of jail.
Tone Ng Shiu was the first man to find his way over the whitewash as he powered through the clutches of Ben Pinkleman.
Luke Masirewa was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle, opening a window for the United States. Quick releases from Folau Niua and Pinkelman set up Stephen Tomasin for a beauty in the corner.
However, the USA was caught napping, they knocked the ball on and it went out of play from the touch. It gave New Zealand the option for a scrum or the lineout. The Kiwis took the line-out and Dylan Collier out-paced the rest of the field.
A mathematical error saw the United States with eight players on the field. Referee Damian Murphy restarted play with a penalty to New Zealand on halfway.
Ngarohi McGarvey Black had the final say of this Cup Final and his try out wide sealed the deal.
New Zealand is the champions in Dubai and their nine-year wait for a title at this season-opener is over.
Third-place: England 15-14 Australia
Tom Mitchell has been outstanding for England in Dubai and put in a monster of a try-saving tackle on Lachie Anderson.
John Porch broke the deadlock and England’s response came through Will Muir – worked beautifully from their own 22-metre area.
Maurice Longbottom produced a magical chip that beat England’s defensive line, before Lachie Anderson finished the job to score his fourth try of the weekend.
England sent Dan Norton into the fray, but Mike Ellery gets England back in it with a power surge down the right wing. With 20 seconds to go England had the chance to snatch this game away from their opponents. It’s their captain who sets up the final score. Tom Mitchell drove flat to the line, then took a huge hit for his troubles, but it created the chance for Harry Glover to cross.
Fifth-Place: South Africa 19-24 Fiji in sudden death extra time (teams tied 19-all at regulation full-time)
Before the tournament started not many would have had these two down as fifth place play-off protagonists. But, quarterfinal losses to England and the United States mean that this epic clash is arriving a little earlier than expected.
Mesu Kunalolo opened Fiji’s account and then they held South Africa out until the final seconds of the half.
However, we all know how determined the BlitzBoks are and youngster Muller du Plessis had the power to crash over late on – 7-all at the break.
Aminiasi Tuimaba scored early in the second half, but a quick second-half double by Du Plessis (to complete his hat-trick) saw South Africa grab the lead with just 30 seconds remaining on the clock.
However, there was plenty of late drama. Waisea Nacuqu went over for a try right on the hooter, by the conversion by debutant Vilimoni Botitu from in front was wide and the teams were left tied on 19-all – going into sudden death extra time.
On debut, Aminiasi Tuimaba clinched an extra-time victory for Fiji and done it in exceptional style with a chip and collect.
Challenge Trophy Final: Samoa 33-24 France
Thirteenth-Place: Japan 7-31 Wales