New Zealand were crowned champions at the inaugural Canada Sevens on Sunday, after beating South Africa 19-14 in the Cup Final in Vancouver.
Tries from the player of the final Sam Dickson, Kurt Baker and Lewis Ormond were enough to see off the Blitzboks and claim a third Cup title for New Zealand in the 2015/16 World Rugby Sevens Series.
The win sees New Zealand move to 104 points and close the gap on series leaders Fiji (106) who finished fourth after losing to Australia in the third place play-off to just two points. Runners-up South Africa remain in second on 105 points.
“We struggled last week in Vegas with the new team, getting our combinations together but this week we really wanted to go better and I am just so pleased we won the final because it has been a hard week,” said captain Tim Mikkelson.
“We let ourselves down last week and dropped down the table and we really wanted to finish strong in this tournament. It’s amazing to win this in this amazing venue in Canada, it’s just been awesome.”
Samoa won the Plate, Canada won the Bowl and Russia took home the Shield, with a record 60,418 fans turning up across the two days with the tournament set to go down in history, also the first Sevens event to be played under a closed roof.
Another bit of magic from Samoa’s man of the moment Phoenix Hunapo-Tofoa played a pivotal role as Samoa won the Plate. Alex Samoa scored twice in the win as move to ninth in the series standings with the win, with Hunapo-Tofoa setting up his second which secured the win despite consolation tries from Madison Hughes and Ben Leatigaga for the USA.
In what was arguably the match of the weekend, Canada walked away with the Bowl after beating France 19-17 in a last second thriller.
Canada were continually chasing the match in the first half after France’s Julien Candelon bagged a runaway try, but after the break Nate Hirayama went over and converted his own try to make it 7-7. A try from France’s Stephen Parez and a second from Candelon took the game to 17-7 and looked to put it out of reach, but Canada had plenty left in the tank.
Harry Jones dotted down before the full time hooter sounded, putting Canada within a try. After France’s Theo Millet decided to run the ball instead of kicking it out, it gave Canada another opportunity which John Moonlight finished from close range. A huge pressure kick from Hirayama gave Canada the Bowl to the delight of the home crowd.
Having beaten Kenya convincingly in the Shield semi-final Russia continued their winning form in the final with a 17-10 victory over Portugal to take home the silverware.
Russia’s Dimitriy Perov went over early in the first half to take the lead but his score was cancelled out quickly by Portuguese youngster Vasco Ribeiro.
Vladislav Sozonov ensured Russia went into half-time ahead with an additional try before the interval and Vladimir Ostroushko powered through a gap early in the second half to give them a 17-5 advantage.
A yellow card for Vladislav Sozonov gave Portugal a man advantage but they could only claw one try back through Fabio Conceicao before the final whistle.
Cup Final: New Zealand 19-14 South Africa
Bronze Final: Australia 19-12 Fiji
Semi-Finals: South Africa 31-19 Fiji, New Zealand 28-19 Australia
Plate Final: Samoa 31-19 USA
Semi-Finals: USA 38-12 Wales, Samoa 24-17 Scotland
Bowl Final: Canada 19-17 France
Semi-Finals: France 19-17 Argentina, Canada 17-7 England
Shield Final: Russia 17-10 Portugal
Semi-Finals: Russia 24-7 Kenya, Portugal 17-7 Brazil
Cup Quarter-Finals: Fiji 31-26, South Africa 31-0 Wales, New Zealand 17-12 Samoa, Australia 24-17
1) Fiji – 106 points
2) South Africa – 105
3) New Zealand – 104
4) Australia – 90
5) USA – 76
6) Argentina – 69
7) England – 57
8) Kenya – 53
9) Samoa – 44
10) France – 43
11) Scotland – 42
12) Wales – 32
13) Canada – 31
14) Japan – 20
15) Russia – 15
16) Portugal – 11
17) Brazil – 1
17) Zimbabwe – 1
With thanks to the World Rugby Sevens website