New Zealand erased an early deficit to beat the Blitzboks 19-14 in the Cup final of the inaugural Vancouver Sevens. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Blitzboks were made to rue their lack of possession, the high number of penalties they conceded and numerous unforced errors that crept into their game as New Zealand pounced on their inaccuracy to stay in the ascendancy.
The opening exchanges of the physical battle were dominated by New Zealand, who tested the Springbok Sevens' defence without getting the desired breakthrough.
Then in the fifth minute, Rosco Speckman outran the Kiwi sweepers to latch on to a grubber kick and score the first try to break the deadlock, with Justin Geduld converting.
But their joy was short-lived as the Kiwis hit back twice in two minutes to take an unassailable lead.
From turnover possession, Liam Messam drew the last Blitzboks defender before finding Sam Dickson on his outside, who dotted down for a converted score. From the resulting kick-off, scorer turned provider as Dickson leaped high to gather Gillies Kaka's restart and sent Kurt Baker away for their second converted try.
Incredibly, it took South Africa nine minutes to complete their first pass and it was one from Seabelo Senatla that sent Kwagga Smith clear down the left flank which looked certain to lead to a try just before the break, but Kaka pegged him back with a desperate tackle and won a turnover penalty for his side as New Zealand held on to their seven-point advantage at the turn.
Dylan Sage came on in the second half and almost crossed the tryline, but DJ Forbes stopped him just short and from there the Kiwis worked their way downfield. Their brave defence was rewarded when Lewis Ormond found space out wide for the third Kiwi try in the 19th minute.
With only seconds remaining and two scores adrift, the Blitzboks eventually found their rhythm when Seabelo Senatla ran into space to cross for a breakaway try, but while there was still time left for one last restart, Cecil Afrika made the mistake of kicking the ball directly into touch as New Zealand held on for the win to become the first-ever Canada Sevens champions.
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