New Zealand seal Sevens Series title
May 22, 2011
New Zealand's David Raikuna is caught by Argentina's Hernan Olivari during the quarter-final at Twickenham © Getty Images
New Zealand were crowned HSBC Sevens World Series champions for the ninth time on a dramatic second day of action at the London Sevens at Twickenham that culminated with victory for South Africa.
England's failure to make the quarter-finals of the main competition and New Zealand's victory over Argentina in their last eight clash sealed this year's overall title but a dominant Fiji performance in the semi-finals ended their old rivals' hopes of a double success. However, Fiji were themselves undone by a tactically superior South Africa side who clinched their second Series title of the season with a 24-14 victory in the tournament finale.
South Africa, who had lost to Fiji in the pool stages on day one, exacted revenge with a hard fought victory, recovering from a 14-0 deficit early on to score four tries - two of them by Bernardo Botha - and execute coach Paul Treu's game plan with perfection.
Elsewhere, Samoa defeated 2010 London Sevens champions Australia in the Plate final, Scotland scored a dramatic victory against Kenya in the Bowl final and hosts England ended a disappointing weekend with victory over Portugal in the Shield final.
New Zealand were brought crashing down to earth with a 42-12 thumping at the hands of Fiji in their semi-final clash while South Africa accountied for Wales 21-19 in their last four clash. New Zealand had earlier beaten Argentina 31-14 while Fiji were too strong for Samoa in a 26-14 win against the outgoing Series champions. Australia's defence of the London Sevens crown ended at the quarter-final stage where they fell to a 17-0 defeat to South Africa while Wales booked their first semi-final appearance since 2009 with a narrow 19-12 success against France.
Samoa responded to their Cup disappointment with a 22-12 victory over Australia in the Plate finale where Tom Iosefo took his tournament try tally to 10 with two vital scores. The South Sea Islanders had earlier beaten Argentina 38-0 in their semi-final clash while the Australians had seen off France 19-0.
Scotland captured their third Bowl crown with a last-gasp 21-19 victory over Kenya thanks to Andrew Turnbull who crossed for the decisive score after the hooter. They booked their final appearance with another tight win - a 19-17 victory over Spain. Kenya's passage was assured with a 19-15 win against Russia.
Earlier, England's poor form on home soil continued as they suffered a 19-17 defeat to Kenya in their final Bowl quarter-final despite leading 17-0 at half time. Spain became the first team through to the semi-finals in the opening match of day two after defeating the United States 14-0 while Scotland swept past Portugal 26-0. Russia had booked their place in the semi-finals with 15-12 victory against Canada.
England proved too strong for Portugal in the Shield final - winning 22-7 - to end a disappointing weekend with some silverware. Mat Turner, Dan Norton (two) and John Brake's tries secured the win to the delight of the home crowd. The hosts beat Canada 22-14 in the semi-finals while Portugal reached the final after a 21-5 defeat of USA. D
Earlier, Ben Gollings scored his 2,624th point in the history of the World Series, doubling Waisale Serevi's next best tally of 1,310, with his try against Kenya in the Bowl quarter final.
More to follow...
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