New Zealand crowned Dubai 7s champs

DUBAI. — New Zealand won the Dubai Sevens rugby title a record-tying sixth time after beating first-time finalists the United States 21-5 in the Cup final on Saturday.

The All Blacks Sevens easily beat the Eagles on Friday in pool play, but the final was in the balance until two minutes to go, when Andrew Knewstubb’s second conversion to Dylan Collier’s brazen try gave the Kiwis a safe 14-5 lead.

Moments before, USA knocked on and the ball went out. New Zealand had a choice of scrum or lineout and chose a quick throw in. The Americans were caught napping and Collier lumbered 60 metres to the posts.

New Zealand had only two reserves instead of the usual five after a sapping 7-5 win over England in the semi-finals. But the Eagles, at full complement, couldn’t expose the tired New Zealanders because they weren’t able to offload, and were plagued by errors.

Matai Leuta was stripped of the ball by Knewstubb near the tryline, and New Zealand used the turnover to score at the other end, as Tone Ng Shiu powered past Ben Pinkleman.

Another USA chance was wasted when Pinkleman’s pass off the floor to Leuta was dropped, then Perry Baker dropped a catch on the right wing to end the half.

The All Blacks Sevens were reduced to six at the start of the new half when Luke Masirewa was sin-binned for a high tackle, and a Martin Iosefo break drew the Kiwis to free Stephen Tomasin to score untouched for the USA.

But then the Eagles knocked on at the restart, Collier caught them sleeping, and to cap a comical phase, they lost possession when they had eight men on the field.

A converted try to Ngarohi McGarvey Black finished the scoring, as the New Zealand men followed their women’s team from a day before in becoming champions. But the men’s last Dubai title was nine years ago.

Far tougher was the semi-finals, where New Zealand scored early against England, led 7-5 at half-time, then spent the entire second half on defence, as England remarkably did everything but score.

England, who beat defending champions South Africa in the quarter-finals, came from behind against Australia to finish third overall.

The USA knocked out Fiji in the quarter-finals and Australia in the semis.

The second leg is next weekend in Cape Town and Zimbabwe’s Cheetahs will be part of that tournament as they did in Dubai.

Cheetahs assistant manager Gerald Sibanda admitted it was never going to be easy for his team on their return to the World Series where they have to compete against the top sides.

“We lost narrowly against Samoa and Argentina in games which we could have won.

“For a team not professional and playing against top opposition Zimbabwe has won the hearts of many all over the World,’’ Sibanda said.

The Spotlight will, however fall on German-based speedster Tafadzwa Chitokwindo to lead his Cheetahs to an improved show when they head to Cape Town.

Zimbabwe had barely had four full days of training prior to their departure for Dubai and this could be seen by the rate they missed tackles in their opening game against South Africa in which they slumped to a 31-0 defeat.

Source :

The Herald

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