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Sydney Sevens: New Zealand crowned champions after rolling past USA in final

It was sevens heaven for New Zealand in Sydney, with Clark Laidlaw’s Kiwi men matching their illustrious women counterparts by claiming their second title of the world series season.

The Kiwi men were too strong for the USA in the final at Spotless Stadium, running out 21-5 victors, scoring three tries to one, in a final they dominated throughout.

It was the New Zealanders’ first final since the Dubai event to open the season which they also won and puts them back at the pointy end of the series standings.

It was the USA’s fourth straight final defeat for the 2018-19 season.

The New Zealanders took a real grip on the contest with an outstanding first half bookending a period of stout defence through the middle stages with a pair of tries and a 14-0 lead.

Regan Ware scored the first off a delightful cutback that left the American defence floundering, and Sam Dickson completed the first-half scoring when he strolled over to finish an outstanding breakout from Sione Molia and Ware.

When Tone Ng Shiu made it three tries, and a 21-0 lead, early in the second spell with a nice dummy and go, it was all over bar the shouting. Brett Thompson got one back for the Americans, but the Kiwis closed things out clinically to secure their third straight series final triumph and sixth of the last eight.

Earlier, the Kiwis had burst the Fijian bubble to snap a 22-game world series win streak by the Pacific Islanders as they stormed to a 36-14 semifinal victory.

The New Zealanders ran in six tries but were heavily advantaged by a red card late in the first spell to Fiji’s Sevuloni Mocenacagi for a dangerous tip-tackle on Scott Gregory.

That left the Fijians down a man for the rest of the contest and always struggling against a side as well drilled and organised as the New Zealanders.

A second-half yellow card to Fiji’s Meli Derenalagi (for a shoulder charge) further undermined their cause, though Kiwi veteran Kurt Baker did also make his way late in the contest to the naughty chair for a jersey pull.

The veteran Baker scored a brace of tries, as did speedster Vilimoni Koroi for the New Zealanders, while the in-form Tone Ng Shiu and Scott Gregory were the other scorers in a polished all-round display.

The Kiwis led 19-7 at halftime and sealed the deal when Koroi was put away by a quality offload from Regan Ware for the first score of the second spell.

Jerry Tuwai and Alosio Naduva scored a try in each half for the series-leading Fijians who won in both Cape Town and Hamilton.

The in-form Americans, who came into this event as co-series leaders alongside Fiji, held on to defeat England 14-7 in the second semifinal after a scoreless second spell.

Stephen Tomasin and Ben PInkelman crossed for the USA in the first half to answer Dan Norton’s try for England. From there the two sides fought out somewhat of a stalemate as the Americans won through to their fourth straight final of the season.

At the start of the day, in blistering temperatures in the mid-30s, the Kiwi men proved too hot for the French to handle in the second quarterfinal as they ran in four tries to secure a fifth straight victory, 28-5, over the men in blue.

It was New Zealand’s fifth straight quarterfinal win in the world series as the Kiwis mixed some staunch defence with expert finishing to score a pair of tries in each half.

Jona Nareki and Regan Ware crossed in the first half for the Kiwis, with Dickson and Ng Shiu doubling the tally in the second half.

Fiji set up the semifinal against their Kiwi rivals with a tense 22-17 come-from-behind victory over the hosts, sealed when Naduva scored twice in a minute to snatch victory from the gutted Aussies.

England and the USA both made short work of their quarterfinals.

The English ran in tries to Charlton Kerr, Tom Mitchell, Phil Burgess and Tom Bowen to thump South Africa 26-5 after leading 14-0 at halftime. And the Americans breezed past Spain 38-10, after leading 21-5 at the break.

The New Zealanders had qualified for the quarterfinals by winning all three of their Saturday pool matches at the Sydney event, breezing past Wales 27-14 and then thumping Spain (41-0) and Scotland (42-0)

 

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