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All Blacks Sevens stumble on final day

Sean Willis

allblacks.com     06 Mar 2017     Sean Willis

The day started promisingly against Olympic Gold Medallists Fiji in the semifinal. The All Blacks Sevens leapt to a 14-0 lead before Fiji stormed back to win 19-14. The scoring began with a penalty try when Iopu Iopu-Aso was tackled high in the corner. With Kalione Nasoko off the field for two minutes due to the dangerous tackle, the All Blacks Sevens took advantage through a Isaac Te Tamaki try to secure the early advantage. Fiji weren’t to be outdone though and some Jerry Tuwai magic put Mesulame Kunavala over to close the halftime gap to 14-5.

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The second half was a brutal affair as both teams kept the ball in play, tackled ferociously and battled hard at the breakdown. Fiji finally broke through when Joeli Lutumailagi shrugged off two tackles to close the gap to two points. The All Blacks Sevens clung onto their lead through some determined defence but were stretched too far once again as Dakuwaqa found a gap and sped to the line. The All Blacks Sevens tried valiantly in a frantic final 90 seconds but the Fijian defence held firm to claim a spot in the final against South Africa.

It was just as tight in the bronze medal match against USA. In a match where the momentum swung quickly between the two sides, it was the kicking of Stephen Tomasin that was the difference for USA. While both teams crossed for three tries, Tomasin landed two conversions in the blustery conditions to secure the 19-15 win. Late in the game it looked like New Zealand had sealed the match when Sione Molia scored one of the tries of the tournament. Getting the ball deep in his own half, Molia stepped, dummied and sped past all seven USA defenders to score a memorable try. Buoyed by their home crowd, USA struck deep into overtime to secure the 19-15 win and deny New Zealand the bronze medal.
In the final, South Africa edged Fiji 19-12 to with their third straight tournament and fourth out of five on the 2016/17 Sevens World Series. The win has put South Africa clear top of the standings on 107 points with Fiji in second on 83. (FULL STANDINGS)

There is little time to recover with the next tournament taking place in Vancouver on March 11-12.