Header Ban

New Zealand teams win men’s and women’s titles at the Hong Kong Sevens

HONG KONG (AP) — New Zealand won the men’s and women’s titles at the Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday to cap off a tournament that sets a scene for rugby at the Paris Olympics.

The All Blacks Sevens scored the first two tries in a 10-7 win over France in the men’s final to successfully defend their title and bring an end to the three-day carnival in the traditional home of the rugby sevens format.

Michaela Blyde scored three tries in a player-of-the-final performance and Mahina Paul crossed for a late double in New Zealand’s 36-7 win over the United States for the women’s title.

It was the third consecutive tournament title for the Black Ferns Sevens and moved them above Australia in the women’s world series standings.

After a free-flowing women’s final, the men’s decider was dominated by defense. France denied the New Zealanders a try with some desperate covering defense late in the first half and it remained a 0-0 stalemate at the break.

Scott Curry scored the opening points when he dived into the left corner after New Zealand took two quick penalty taps. Cody Vai swooped after an errant pass from a backpedaling French lineup to score soon after, but New Zealand only led 10-0 after missing both conversions.

Varian Pasquet scored right on fulltime to close the gap to three points, but France had to end the final with a conversion rather than a kick restart because time was out.

“Man, what a final,” Curry said. “That first half was so tough. So physical. Credit to France, that was a tough match.

“This place is so special. It means a lot to our team. It’s the one tournament we put up there — we want to win here every year. To do it again, it’s awesome.”

The New Zealand men ousted two-time Olympic gold medalist Fiji with a last-minute try in the quarterfinals on Saturday and had too much firepower for Australia in the semifinals with a 26-7 win.

For the New Zealand men, it was a 68th tournament title in the world series. The French fell just short of a third title overall, and second in about a month as they continue to build momentum toward the Olympics.

France ended its long sevens drought by winning the Los Angeles title on March 4 with Antoine Dupont in the squad.

Without Dupont this time, the French only narrowly missed out. He’s widely expected to play for the home nation in July when Paris hosts the Olympics.

They made it to back-to-back deciders with a commanding 26-10 semifinal win in Hong Kong over Ireland, which rallied to beat Australia 14-5 for the bronze.

The Australian women won bronze with a late 24-21 win over France in the third-place playoff, scoring three quick tries after falling behind 21-7.

That came on the rebound from a semifinal when the Australian women conceded the last three tries in a 28-14 loss to New Zealand.

The women’s final was lopsided, with New Zealand scoring three tries before the U.S. cut the margin to 17-7 at halftime.

The U.S. women were playing their first cup final this series, reaching the gold medal game after Jaz Gray’s tip-toe run down the right sideline sealed a 19-5 semifinal victory over France.

But the American women weren’t able to build any momentum in the second half as the Olympic champion New Zealanders turned on the speed.

“We wanted to come to Hong Kong with the mindset of a peak tournament, so we treated it like it was an Olympic Games,” Blyde said after scoring her hat-trick in the final. “Obviously, it’s a good feeling right now. We’re going to put our foot to the pedal even more when we get home – it’s only going to get harder.”

The next stop in the global sevens series is Singapore from May 3-5.


AP rugby: https://ift.tt/OR2TUb3

Adblock test (Why?)

No comments

Powered by Blogger.