All Blacks Sevens pick up where they left off last season with victory at Gold Coast
Sunday, 13 October 2013
October 13 - Defending World Sevens Series champions New Zealand came from behind to defeat hosts Australia in the final of the season opening Gold Coast Sevens, signalling their intent to hold on to the title they won in emphatic style last season.
Two tries from Ed Jenkins and James Stannard saw the Australians take an early 12-0 lead and had the crowd inside Skilled Park dreaming of an upset, but the reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions showed why they have been the dominant force in recent times by striking back through two Ambrose Curtis tries and two Tomasi Cama conversions to go in at half-time leading.
Cama crossed the line two minutes into the second period to deflate the Australians further before David Raikuna, Waisake Naholo and Joe Webber all touched down for the men in black to ensure a relatively comfortable 40-19 win in the end.
"It is great but that was really tough," said Kiwi head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens afterwards.
"Australia must have been tiring but a gutsy performance from them.
"Even [against] England, we had a great day yesterday; we only conceded one try up until the final and had gone well.
"Perhaps we came out a little bit complacent in the final, but we then knew we had a game and fought back really well."
Sir Gordon's side had earlier overcome England 14-5 in the semi-final and new coach Simon Amor's charges completed an impressive first World Series outing by clinching third place with a record-breaking 47-0 win over a strong South African side.
Amor and new Fiji head coach Ben Ryan must have surely shared a wry smile when the draw inevitably pitched both their sides head-to-head in a quarterfinal showdown at the start of the day.
Ryan, making his first appearance at a World Series event since taking over the Fiji hot-seat last month, had spent six years in charge of the England side and he would have been confident of using his inside knowledge to upset his former side.
However, Amor gained the upper-hand in what will surely be the first of many meetings with the man he replaced as his side ran out 26-12 winners.
Ryan and his Fijian players dusted themselves down after that defeat, however, to go on and claim the Plate competition with an emphatic 36-0 win over Kenya.
"The warmth and generosity of the Fijian people has been outstanding," said Ryan.
"On the field we have a lot of work to do.
"We have a huge amount of talent in Fiji, now we just need to make sure we have the right guys on the pitch, they are fit and good for purpose.
"We want to be lifting cups, not plates.
"When we are on the money, as you've seen there, they play good rugby; we just need to be more consistent."
Coming into the third place match, the Springboks would have been seen by many as the favourites to inflict a second defeat on England after overcoming them 22-14 in yesterday's pool game but a gruelling extra-time defeat to Australia in the semi-final might go against the South Africans.
So it proved, as England made a blistering start, capitalising on whatever lethargy might have been present in their opponents legs and minds by taking a 21-0 half-time lead courtesy of James Rodwell, Phil Burgess and Dan Bibby.
The men in white showed no signs of letting up once the second half whistle went as Rodwell, Burgess and Bibby all completed a brace of tries, with Mike Ellery also crossing the white line to complete a hugely impressive 47-0 win.
"It has been a great experience; it is a wonderful set up in the Gold Coast," said a delighted Amor afterwards.
"Pleased for my guys, we made a lot of mistakes but we progressed from the first to the last.
"South Africa are a fantastic side but I think they just ran out of steam there."
In the Bowl final, France outscored Canada by three tries to two in a tight contest that went into extra-time, with Les Blues eventually emerging 19-14 winners.
"That was a big game, Canada are a very good team," said French captain Vincent Deniau.
"But we won three games so it was good for us today and we said it was a minimum to win the Bowl today.
"The spirit was better for us and we need to keep that for Dubai next."
Next stop on the World Sevens Series tour is due to be Dubai on November 29 and 30.
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October 2013: Defending champions New Zealand off to a flier as Rugby Sevens World Series gets underway Down Under
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October 2013: Promotion and relegation introduced for new Sevens World Series
September 2013: Tickets for Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens go on sale
September 2013: Ryan takes over Fiji role a month after stepping down as England head coach