New Zealand edge England for Wellington crown
February 5, 2011
New Zealand's Tim Mikkelson is tackled by Australia's Ed Jenkins during day two in Wellington © Getty Images
New Zealand clinched the latest leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series with a 29-14 victory over England in the final of the NZI Sevens in Wellington.
Declan O'Donnell was the home hero at a rainy Westpac Stadium, scoring four tries in the final to take his try tally for the tournament to 11 and secure a first home Cup title for New Zealand since 2008.
Isoa Damu's converted try gave England an early 7-0 lead but O'Donnell soon hit back for the home side and with England leading 7-5 nearing the break the same man scored again to give New Zealand a 12-7 half time lead.
Almost immediately after the resumption the home side extended that lead when their playmaker in chief Tomasi Cama sliced through some unusually threadbare English defence and, although the 2009 champions refused to buckle, the kiwis played an intelligent match without injured captain DJ Forbes.
With one minute remaining O'Donnell snatched a fourth and although Simon Hunt scored a late consolation it was the home fans who went home singing. New Zealand and England are now tied in first place in the HSBC Sevens World Series standings on 60 points apiece.
Earlier, O'Donnell's tries inspired New Zealand to beat Australia 17-0 in the semis, while John Brake's converted effort helped England come through 7-5 winners against Samoa. O'Donnell had also scored twice as New Zealand proved too strong for reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions Wales in the quarter finals. England had defeated Argentina 14-7 with first half tries from Isoa Damu and Dan Norton.
Despite relinquishing their NZI Sevens title at the Cup quarter final stage, Fiji finished on a high at the Westpac by beating South Africa to take the Plate, and 12 points towards their World Series tally.
The Fijians lost out to Samoa in their last eight clash but recovered to beat Argentina 28-0 in their Plate semi and were then equally impressive in seeing off the Boks in the final, 26-12 with tries by Ilai Tinai, Mitieli Nacagilevu, Watisoni Votu and Peni Gaunimeke. Earlier, the South Africans had proved too strong for Wales, Branco du Preez (2), Lubabalo Mtembu and Paul Jordaan all scoring to book their place in the final.
Kenya won their first HSBC Sevens World Series points of the season by beating Tonga 19-0 to secure the Bowl title. Tries by Biko Adema, Sidney Ashioya and captain Humphrey Kayange carried them to victory.
Earlier the Kenyans were the first side through to the final with a last-gasp win against Scotland, Biko Adema crossing after the buzzer for a 15-12. In their quarter final the Kenyans had also left it late, trailing 14-12 for the entire second half against Canada before Andrew Amonde crossed in the last play of the match. Vaea Tangilau Poteki had scored both of Tonga's tries as they beat the Cook Islands 12-7 in the semi finals.
USA won a fine Shield final 19-12 against France to take silverware back to the States one week out from their home tournament, the USA Sevens in Las Vegas. Tai Enosa, Ronald Suniula and veteran Paul Emerick all scored in a physical battle against the improved French.
Earlier, the Eagles Seven reached the Shield final with a convincing 31-7 victory over North American rivals Canada. with tries from Justin Boyd, Enosa (2), Zach Test and Roland Suniula.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton