New Zealand seal Commonwealth gold
October 12, 2010
Sherwin Stowers and Kurt Baker celebrate victory © Getty Images
New Zealand have won their fourth successive Commonwealth Games Sevens gold medal, beating a brave Australia 24-17 in the final at Delhi University.
Gordon Tietjens' men saw off the challenges of England and Wales with ease in the knockout stages to keep alive their unbeaten Commonwealth streak but they were pushed to the limit in the final by a young Australia side marshalled by the brilliant James Stannard.
Australia secured their best finish at the Games with a silver medal while South Africa ensured southern hemisphere dominance by beating England in the bronze medal match.
Lote Raikabula followed up on a break from skipper DJ Forbes to open the scoring in the final but Australia gave as good as they got, biting back through Wallabies wing Lachie Turner while one of New Zealand's All Black contingent, Waikato No.8 Liam Messam, kicked his heels in the sin-bin for a high tackle on a side-stepping Stannard.
Messam trundled back on with New Zealand on the attack just before half-time but he could not prevent Australia from securing a vital advantage after the hooter - Queensland Reds fullback Luke Morahan exploiting a weak tackle from Hosea Gear before outstripping the cover to touch down his own kick ahead.
Australia forged further ahead after the break thanks to a try from Stannard, whose cut back against the grain produced a seven-point score thanks to former New Zealand Under-17 representative Kimami Sitauti's clever reverse pass.
Twelve-year unbeaten streaks are not founded on soft centres however and New Zealand counter-punched with Toby Arnold's brilliant offload sending replacement Sherwin Stowers racing over to bring the scores back to within three. A tide of black shirts responded to Stowers' pick-me-up and committed Australian defence could not prevent Forbes breaking through to snatch a 19-14 lead with three minutes remaining. Australia redoubled their efforts but were hit with a devastating break from Stowers, whose pace opened up space for Kurt Baker to seal gold in style.
South Africa had earlier claimed the bronze medal after fighting back from 14-5 down at half-time to beat England 17-14.
Mat Turner and Dan Caprice scored in a productive first period for Ben Ryan's side, who accounted for Samoa in the last eight before losing to New Zealand, but their efforts were undone late on as Paul Treu's Sevens Boks took advantage of some casual English play. Bernard Botha had opened the scoring with a breathtaking try early on but it was a quick-fire double from Cecil Afrika and Lubabalo Mtembu that carried South Africa across the line despite the late efforts of England legend Ben Gollings.
Papua New Guinea had earlier won the first piece of silverware of the day, beating Canada 17-10 in the Bowl final, before Samoa ran in six tries against Scotland to collect the Plate.
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