New Zealand down England to take HK title

March 31, 2014 - 12:13:04 am
New Zealand players perform the haka following their win over England in the final of the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, part of the Sevens World Series, in Hong Kong yesterday.

HONG KONG: New Zealand defeated England 26-7 in a drenched final in Hong Kong yesterday, surging to the top of the points table after the seventh tournament of the IRB Sevens World Series.

Leap-frogging South Africa, whose disappointing final day saw them knocked out of the Cup quarter-finals by England, New Zealand now boast 136 points after their third tournament win of this year’s series.

South Africa is in second place with 129 points, Fiji in third with 112 points, and England in fourth with 104 points.

“It’s a great, great victory in real challenging conditions,” said coach Gordon Tietjens, who like his players was caught in a deluge in the dying moments of the game.

Describing England as a “quick side” and a “dangerous team”, he nevertheless showered praise on his players -- one in particular.  “Our captain DJ Forbes was just, simply, simply outstanding... You know, without singling out individuals, he was just quite amazing, I just can’t say enough about the guy.”

He praised his team for picking themselves up after a fourth-place finish in Tokyo last week, but insisted the New Zealanders would not be resting on their laurels despite leading the table.

“Yeah it’s great, seven ahead, but that’s nothing, we led after Wellington then the lead changed again... You’ve got to just keep playing well.”

Fiji, whose attempt to take a hat-trick of titles in Hong Kong was blocked in the semi-finals by England, took on Australia for third-place honours, winning 14-12. The win netted the Pacific islanders an all-important 17 points as they close in on South Africa in the table.

“We definitely looked a little bit tired there in that game,” Fiji coach Ben Ryan -- who was until last year the head coach of the England sevens team -- said after the semi-final. 

“Fair play to England, they’re a full-time professional side, their set piece was good against us, moved us around.”

England also killed South Africa’s dreams of winning their maiden tournament in Hong Kong. The South African “Blitzbokke” fell 14-7 in the quarter-final -- the first time in six tournaments that South Africa has not made a Series final.

“I’m obviously disappointed,” coach Neil Powell said after the game. “We just made too many mistakes and gave them opportunities to play from it.”

South Africa, who lost captain Kyle Brown on day one, narrowly defeated Wales 19-14 to win the Plate.  AFP

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