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New Zealand win men’s and women’s titles at Sydney Sevens

New Zealand win men’s and women’s titles at Sydney Sevens


SYDNEY (AP) New Zealand won the men’s and women’s titles on Sunday at the Sydney leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series, cementing their overall lead in both series.

The New Zealanders beat France 35-0 for their third consecutive title in Sydney, their third of the season and their 30th since the start of the World Series.

Tenika Willison and Jazmin Felix-Hotham scored two tries each while veteran Portia Woodman scored the last of the game, her 213th in World Series games.

The New Zealanders were unbeaten in the tournament, averaging 35.5 points per game while conceding just four tries in six matches, none in the final.

The tone of the final was set early when Willison and Felix-Hotham both scored under the posts in the first four minutes. New Zealand led 21-0 at half-time and added two more tries in the second half.

France defended aggressively, but New Zealand were able to manipulate the defense to create space by moving the ball quickly wide then back into the field and using pace to finish.

To win back-to-back (New Zealand also won last weekend in Hamilton) is tough enough and to come here and have the support we’ve had in the crowd is fantastic,” said New Zealand captain Sarah Hirini.

Hirini also sent aroha (love) to his family in Auckland where four people have died in flash floods since Friday.

The New Zealand men beat South Africa 36-0 for their first title of the season. South Africa beat New Zealand 17-14 in the group, but the Kiwis learned from that loss and were able to hold the South Africans scoreless for the first time in nine years.

Tries from Roderick Solo, Joe Webber and captain Sam Dickson gave New Zealand a 17-0 half-time lead. But the game still hung in the balance: South Africa had rallied from a similar margin to beat New Zealand in the final in Dubai earlier in the season.

Akuila Rokolisoa scored the decisive try in the 12th minute, clearing the ball from a South African scrum and collecting before the line. Amanaki Nicole and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black added tries before the end to make the win complete.

The New Zealand men have secured two second places and a third in four previous tournaments this year and were relieved to break through for their first win.

It’s nice, Dickson said. I’m so proud of the boys and the management. We tried so hard, made a few finals and just missed.

It was an unreal tournament for us and it was about time we produced such a polished performance.

The win extends New Zealand’s series lead to nine points over South Africa. New Zealand women now lead Australia by 12 points.


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