13 December 2010
New Zealand successfully defended their George Sevens title with an extra-time win over England on Saturday, while South Africa came away as winners of the Plate for the second week in a row.
There was considerable support for the Kiwis from the crowd, including chants of “DJ Forbes” for the New Zealand skipper. “It is quite special,” he told the Official HSBC Sevens World Series website. “We mentioned it during the week that George is probably our second home in terms of the World Series, and the support they give us is awesome.
“We really dig deep because there are a lot of people that are really focused on us winning and we put a lot of smiles on these supporters’ faces.”
It was a very tight final, with New Zealand winning 22-19 in extra time after they had been reduced to six players.
‘A tremendous result’
Gordon Tietjens, who has been New Zealand’s coach since 1994, commented: “It was a tremendous result for us. We played England twice here in this tournament and have beaten them twice after they beat us in Dubai.
“It was magnificent and all credit to the new guys, I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
South Africa were impressive on the opening day and dominated play in Pool D. They opened with a 38-0 victory over Portugal who just a week ago had beaten eventual winners England at the Dubai Sevens.
The win over Portugal was followed by a 33-7 victory over Zimbabwe and a convincing 29-5 win over Argentina.
On day two South Africa were up against England in the quarterfinals of the Cup. The home side led 10-5 at the break, but conceded two tries, both converted, in the second half to go down 19-10.
“If you’re not going to use your moments and your opportunities on the field, it’s going to be very difficult for us to win those close games,” said coach Paul Treu of his team’s performance.
That defeat put the Blitsbokke into the Plate competition where they faced Wales for a place in the final. It proved to be a nail-biting clash.
With the final hooter having sounded and no time left on the clock, South Africa trailed 21-17, but a superb final effort set Cecil Afrika free on the left and he dashed over the line for a try and the winning points as South Africa scored a narrow 22-21 victory.
Sadly for South Africa, Afrika, the team’s playmaker and leading try scorer, suffered a fractured cheekbone in the game and is likely to be sidelined for a couple of months.
South Africa’s opponents in the final were Argentina, who had edged Australia 14-12 in the other semi-final. The second meeting between the two teams was much closer than the first, only a day earlier, but South Africa again came out on top, this time by a 10-5 margin.
After the win, coach Treu said: “It was good to give the people something back. It is a Plate final, and the more we start putting these teams away in these games, the more important it is for us to keep building the momentum.”
In an all-African final of the Shield, Zimbabwe defeated Kenya 14-5.
Scotland blanked Russia 26-0 to win the Bowl. The Russians had earlier crushed France 34-0 in the semi-finals.
After two of eight rounds, England top the World Series standings on 44 points. New Zealand has 40 points, defending champions Samoa 36 and Fiji 32.
South Africa, after successive Plate titles is in fifth spot on 24 points, 10 clear of sixth placed Australia.
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