Record four-in-a-row title for New Zealand
JOHANNESBURG - New Zealand triumphed over France with a thrilling 47-12 win to clinch the third leg of the IRB Sevens World Series for the fourth consecutive time in South Africa Sunday.
The All Blacks scored seven tries thanks to a hat trick from Kurt Baker, the biggest scorer in the tournament in the final.
France, exhausted from a 25-minute 10-7 semi final against Argentina, proved no match for the Kiwis, scoring only two tries in the deciding game.
Their first victory in three finals this season extends the All Blacks’ lead in the series to 60 points, 14 ahead of second-placed France.
It was a fitting birthday present for New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens, who turned 57 on Sunday.
“I had a lot of luck with the teams over the last four years, to win here on my birthday, but I just feel for the players. They performed magnificently today,” he said.
“We were beaten by a good Samoan team at the last tournament in Dubai, beaten by Fiji in Australia so we had to win this one.”
He had empathy for the worn-out French side.
“They’re probably harder done by in terms of having to play just about an extra game when they had to go into extra time.”
The game is now on to defend their home title in the series’ fourth leg in New Zealand in February next year.
“There’s always pressure to win your own tournament. You can ask South Africa today,” said Tietjens, adding that the side needed to rest first.
“We’ve got to get through Christmas and hopefully recover injuries. The guys took a few knocks over the last two weeks.”
After winning only one game in the pool stages, France fought back to come in second.
Coach Frederic Pommarel was happy with his side’s performance, though he conceded a few areas needed work.
“I’m very proud of the players, but I think we didn’t develop a very good attacking game. Defensively I have some big fighters,” he said.
In their semi-final match New Zealand beat South Africa 12-5, coming from 5-0 behind thanks to a try from Tomasi Cama, who also dealt the death blow to the hosts’ dreams of home victory in last year’s final.
Losing after coming so close to the final was tough for coach Paul Treu.
“It was very disappointing,” he said.
“We had our chances and so did they, with the only difference that New Zealand took the one that mattered.”
The Blitzbokke went on to a 35-0 victory over Argentina in the third-place playoff courtesy of a hat trick signed Cheslin Kolbe.
Defending Sevens world champions Wales took the Plate with a convincing 26-14 win over Fiji, the winner of this season’s first leg.
Portugal, the only team besides South Africa to win all three of their pool matches, had to bow the knee to Fiji in the Plate semi finals, after they were relegated following a 10-7 defeat to France in the Cup quarter finals.
A young Australian side took the Bowl with four tries to score 26-14 against second-leg winners in Emirates Samoa.
Two tries from Pedro Martin gave Spain the edge in a 21-14 win over Zimbabwe for the Shield.