All Blacks Sevens back on top in World Sevens

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Lynn McConnell     03 Feb 2019     Getty Images

It capped an impressive weekend in spite of more injuries as they inflicted the fourth finals loss of the 2018-19 series on the Americans.

It was New Zealand defensive pressure that told and when forcing a knock-on, Vilimoni Koroi moved the ball from the scrum, doubled around Sione Molia to pass the ball to a flying Regan Ware on the wing. He smashed the American tackle attempt and raced in for the first try.

Molia and Ware combined again to capitalise on an American handling error which resulted in Sam Dickson, later awarded the player of the final award, going over for a try.

Into the second half Trael Joass got onto the field for the hard-working Scott Gregory and made a powerful run into the USA 22m area. From the breakdown ruck Tone Ng Shiu threw a dummy and waltzed through the gap to score New Zealand's final try.

There was late reward for the USA when Brett Thompson scored after New Zealand allowed Martin Iosefo to run strongly through the midfield.

Molia said the Sydney win was taking them one step closer to their goal of winning the series.

It had been a tough battle but New Zealand had learned the lessons from their semifinal loss to the USA in Hamilton last week and the key to their success had been sticking to what they knew and executing it.

New Zealand qualified for the final when beating an ill-disciplined Fiji team 36-14. The competition co-leaders played much of the game with six men after a dangerous tackle on Gregory by Sevuloni Mocenacagi. And when Meli Derenalagi was sin-binned for a shoulder charge on Tone Ng Shiu, Fiji had only five players on the field. That was negated a little when Kurt Baker was sin-binned for a jersey pull.

However, by that stage the game had gone from Fiji's grasp. New Zealand made an outstanding start when Ng Shiu scored following a strong run made by Vilimoni Koroi and Dickson, in support, ensured ball for Baker to shimmy and provide the space for Ng Shiu to score.

A break by Molia through the midfield shattered the Fijian defence and holding the ball as long as he could Molia then passed knowing Gregory's momentum would carry him across the line in the Fijian tackles.

Jerry Tuwai got seven points back for Fiji after an outstanding offload out the back by Mesulame Kunavula.

However, conceding two penalties after the sending off allowed the All Blacks Sevens to get close to the line and that saw Baker cross out wide.

Into the second half Baker made a strong mid-field break, unleashing a heavy fend. Ware had Koroi in support for an inside pass to take them out to a 24-7 lead.

Baker scored when taking advantage of the reduced defence but then was sin-binned which resulted in Alasio Naduva being able to score from a goalline melee.

However, more defensive pressure saw Nareki and Ware inter-passing before Koroi was on hand to cross out wide.

In their 28-5 quarterfinal win over France, New Zealand had to wait to get their hands on the ball.

France set out to hold onto the ball as long as they could, and they did deny New Zealand for a long period at the start of the game but when they were pushed into touch just out from New Zealand's line, the All Blacks Sevens had their chance to get their hands on the ball.

They made the most of it, and while losing Tim Mikkelson to a head cut, they replaced him with Gregory who chased everything that moved and made a big impact.

When Ng Shiu took a gap out wide, he had Jona Nareki in support and he took a clear run to the line to open the scoring.

France failed to control the restart and Gregory burst through onto the ball and carried his charge into the French 22m area. The ball was moved wide and Dickson was able to feed Ware, who had doubled around behind him, into a gap to score.

Poor ball control by France proved costly when they had been building well. First of all they attempted to tidy ball with a kick pass backwards which was not controlled and then they lost ball in front of the goalposts. When a penalty was awarded Dickson took it quickly and drove over for a simple try.

France did create one late chance which saw Thibauld Mazzolene score but New Zealand had the final say with Ng Shiu scoring after a late penalty.