Black-to-black for All Blacks Sevens
For the second week in a row, the All Blacks Sevens have come from behind in dramatic style to win the Sydney Sevens.
All Blacks Sevens 27 (Rieko Ioane 3, Tim Mikkelson, Kurt Baker tries, Kurt Baker con) Australia 24 (Henry Hutchinson 2, Sam Myers, Greg Jeloudev tries, James Stannard 2 con)
After drawing 17-17 in the final match of day one, the stage was set for an epic final between the All Blacks Sevens and Australia in Sydney.
Buoyed by their overwhelming home support, Australia came out firing through an early try to 18-year-old speedster Henry Hutchinson. New Zealand hit back instantly as the Ioane brothers linked in spectacular fashion. With the score locked at 7-7, Sonny Bill Williams was yellow carded for a high tackle and Australia took advantage as Hutchinson went over in the corner for a double. Williams wasted no time making up for his yellow card by claiming the kick off and putting Kurt Baker in the clear to make it 12-12 at the break.
Just like the first half, Australia scored first and New Zealand struck back immediately. This time it was a clutch play from skipper Tim Mikkelson who burst through the line before outpacing the cover defence. A 30 metre skip pass by Lewis Holland put speedster Greg Jeloudev over to give Australia a seven point buffer with just two minutes remaining.
The introduction of Ardie Savea was instrumental. A pilfer from the turnover specialist led to a try out wide from Rieko Ioane to close the gap to two points. With time almost up on the clock, Savea again showed his ability by holding up an Australia ball carrier to cause another turn over. After stretching the defence both ways, Rieko Ioane was unleashed in space to cross for this third try and seal the dramatic victory for New Zealand.
How to celebrate scoring the match-winning try at the #HSBC7s @sydney7s! https://t.co/GssL5y7HyE— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 7, 2016
In what is becoming a familiar sight on the circuit, the star play of the day was performed by the barn-storming Akira Ioane. In a tight semi-final against Fiji, the defining play was a rampaging run by the 20-year-old star. After bursting through the line in his own half, a deft dummy drew the second line of defence before a strong fend saw off the final defender as Ioane went over for the try of the game.
Here's your @HSBC_Sport Player of the Final for the #Sydney7s, Akira Ioane! #HSBC7s pic.twitter.com/URobsc9vZ4— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 7, 2016
After a slow start in the opening two rounds of the World Sevens Series, the All Blacks Sevens have stormed to first equal on the ladder following victories in Wellington and Sydney. With the competition getting tighter as the Olympics approaches in August, New Zealand, Fiji and South Africa share the lead on 69 points while Australia have jumped from seventh place to fourth on the back of the Sydney final appearance. USA have been looking threatening and will be tough to beat in the Las Vegas leg of the series from 4-6 March.
Back-to-back! Thanks to @Aussie7s for an epic final in Sydney! Bring on Las Vegas!#NZ7s #Sydney7s pic.twitter.com/ceMjiBp4G3— NZ7s (@nz7s) February 7, 2016