New Zealand came from behind to clinch a controversial final against South Africa and win the Wellington Sevens.
The All Blacks Sevens came from 14-0 and 21-7 behind to win 24-21 in the final, giving Sir Gordon Tietjens and his side their first title of the 2015/2016 season, although several key decisions by referee Matt O’Brien were met with outrage by South African supporters on social media.
Tietjens’ side move from seventh to third in the Sevens World Series standings with 47 points, five behind Fiji who finished third at the Westpac Stadium and seven behind the Blitzboks who moved ahead of Fiji for the first time this season.
There were enthralling scenes in Wellington as the hosts snatched victory at the death to claim a hat-trick of Wellington titles and a fifth in six years thanks to a match-winning try from Joe Webber. New Zealand kept the ball and their composure after the buzzer had sounded to cap a remarkable comeback, similar to that of their 17-14 pool victory over Neil Powell’s side at the end of day.
“All week we talked about how we needed a lot of heart and a lot of ticker,” said captain Tim Mikkelson.
“Liam Messam came back from Japan and talked about putting the pride back in the jersey after the last couple of tournaments, and that’s what we did. We talked about securing the kick-offs and we bumbled a few and put ourselves under pressure but we knew if we coud keep the ball in hand we could win.”
In the semi finals Cheslin Kolbe scored two tries to help Neil Powell’s side cruise to a 31-0 win over Fiji, while Ben Lam also scored two as the hosts New Zealand booked their place in the final with a win over England. Sydney hosts Australia won the Plate with a 21-5 win over Argentina.
Samoa dispatched Scotland without too much trouble to win the Bowl final. Samoa’s Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa turned Scotland’s Mark Robertson inside and out with another trademark step to score the opening try. Samoa scored two turnover tries in the second half. with Tomasi Alosio the first to scoot over from the base of the ruck on the 10-minute mark. Danny Tusitala followed his lead a few minutes later after the Pacific Islanders turned defence into attack. Scotland had the last say however when Gavin Lowe dotted down with the clock in red.
France won the Shield after beating Russia 14-7. Captain Steeve Barry got the French off to a great start, picking the ball up at the base of the ruck after a good weaving run from Julien Candelon to score the game’s first try. Moments later, 35-year-old Candelon crossed the line himself with Arthur Retiere supplying the extras. Russia almost got back into the game after half time but Vladimir Sozonov failed to ground the ball properly. Vladimir Lazarenko’s score three minutes later was too little too late.
Final: New Zealand 24-21 South Africa
Bronze Final: England 12-24 Fiji
New Zealand 25-5 England
South Africa 31-0 Fiji
New Zealand 36-0 Kenya
England 33-7 Argentina
Australia 14-26 South Africa
Fiji 21-12 USA
Final: Argentina 5-21 Australia
Kenya 14-35 Argentina
Australia 17-5 USA
Final: Scotland 7-19 Samoa
Scotland 31-26 Japan
Canada 7-26 Samoa
Scotland 29-12 Portugal
France 14-19 Japan
Canada 35-12 Russia
Wales 24-29 Samoa
Final: France 14-7 Russia
Portugal 17-22 France
Russia 17-0 Wales
With thanks to the World Rugby website
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) January 31, 2016