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Third placed All Blacks Sevens still in touch with leaders

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Lynn McConnell     27 Jan 2019     Getty Images

Fiji claimed their second tournament of the series with a 38-0 win over the United States to move to a share of the top of the table with the USA while New Zealand are third three points behind and 10 points ahead of South Africa with England fifth on 38 points.

South Africa made the early running and penalty pressure in the New Zealand 22m area resulted in Sivime Soyizwapi scoring the opening try. But from the restart South Africa's kick failed to go 10m and New Zealand pounced to run the ball and when Dylan Collier fired a perfect pass to Tony Ng Shiu on the left flank, he had too much speed for the Blitzboks.
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Just on halftime Tim Mikkelson got through to give New Zealand a 14-7 lead at the break.

Ng Shiu was over again early in the second half after Mikkelson tidied turnover ball for Jona Nareki, Sam Dickson and Mikkelson to combine to give him the chance.

Their cause was helped when Werner Kok was sin-binned for a tackle offence and Joe Ravouvou was given a superb pass from Scott Gregory to cross while Sam Dickson capped the game with a strong run in to score the last try of the game.

New Zealand's mistakes proved costly in the semifinal 7-17 loss to the United States.

The US opened the scoring from a five-metre scrum after a poor pass from Dickson had to be grounded in-goal by Ravouvou and Madison Hughes powered his way on the blindside when the ball emerged.

Building again, the US were looking dangerous before Regan Ware honed in on a long pass to intercept and race 70m and just managing to ground the ball in the tackle after being chased all the by Carlin Isles.

But in the second half a tip tackle by Vilimoni Koroi resulted in a sin-binning and from the penalty Hughes made good ground to set up good ball which resulted in Steve Tomasin scoring.

In the final stages of the game, Isles came in off his touchline to clear the ball from the base of a ruck but instead of passing out he ran the blindside and had too much speed to get across for the winning try.

Laidlaw said the loss was both frustrating and disappointing and the way the All Blacks Sevens had played wasn't what they were hoping for.

The United States were in their third straight final, they were a hugely balanced team with power and some playmakers with real speed on the outside with Isles and they had a huge amount of experience with the ability to dominate key areas of the game at kickoffs and breakdowns.

"If you don't match them there then they are going to roll most teams.

"We don't want to panic, we've played really well this weekend. We played well in the quarterfinal, and played well yesterday and played well in the first two tournaments. I think we're on the right track. Losing semifinals is always difficult.

"The World Series is going to be really tight, I think we all can see that so every point counts," he said

New Zealand put paid to Australia's chances in their quarterfinal with a 24-17 win, Australia finishing strongly with two late tries, but it was too little, too late.

It was confirmed co-captain Scott Curry was out for the remainder of the tournament and for next week's Sydney tournament after rolling his ankle.

Australia started strongly, having an early break out chance halted due to a forward pass, it was the yellow-carding of Maurice Longbottom midway through the first half that gave New Zealand their first chance.

They had been attacking with a try likely when Longbottom knocked the ball to the ground and in the resulting play good work between Nareki, Collier and Dickson provided the defensive muscle to see Collier over.

Australia conceded another penalty and from the play Nareki decided to go it alone and while tackled, he managed to ground the ball. Australia were under pressure for the remainder of the half and from a defensive lineout Collier won the ball and Mikkelson's support play doubling around behind the backline provided the impetus to allow Regan Ware to score.

Dickson was forced to leave the field with a broken nose just before the break but he returned in the second half with nose straightened.

New Zealand made a bad mistake to start the second half when Andrew Knewstubb's kick failed to go 10m and Australia scored after Longbottom created a chance through the midfield which resulted in Simon Kennewell scoring in the right corner.

The All Blacks' Sevens response was immediate with Collier and Molia making strong breaks to clear their own 22m area and take play deep into Australia's half. When the ball was moved back Mikkelson was able to break the defence on the left to carry New Zealand to its 24 points.

Australia came into the tournament wanting to be better at the end of the games and would take some satisfaction in the tries scored by Lewis Holland and Josh Coward.