By Campbell Burnes
The All Blacks Sevens are back in the winning circle after six weeks.
In a physically rugged and draining Cup final, they beat South Africa 19-14 to claim the inaugural Canada Sevens in Vancouver.
Led by the indefatigable DJ Forbes, New Zealand played a tactically smart game to stymie South Africa, who were the pre-match favourites, and win their third tournament out of six in the World Series.
“It was a huge team effort. I’m absolutely stoked,” said man of the match Sam Dickson.
New Zealand showed their hand with the inclusion of Liam Messam in the starting seven and proceeded to play it tight, mixing a short passing game with direct running and some judicious long kicking.
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And yet it was Rosko Specman who scored first for South Africa, in dubious circumstances. He crossed the line but there was no clear evidence he had grounded the ball in the tackle of Kurt Baker and Sherwin Stowers.
Not to worry, as Dickson hit back two minutes later, after Messam got on the outside of his man and timed the pass perfectly. Dickson then leapt two-handed to claim the kickoff, brilliantly, and set Baker away with the assist.
New Zealand again looked composed but could not shake South Africa, but they had the bit between the teeth when Lewis Ormond scored out wide following a patient build-up of controlled sevens. At one point New Zealand had completed 43-7 passes to seven, which highlighted their manipulation of possession in the encounter.
Seabelo Senatla scored almost at the death, but the kickoff sailed out on the full, handing New Zealand a gritty and well thought out victory, which leaves them just a point behind South Africa and two behind Fiji on the overall World Series standings.
New Zealand 19 (Sam Dickson, Kurt Baker, Lewis Ormond tries; Gillies Kaka 2 con) South Africa 14 (Rosko Specman, Seabelo Senatla tries; Justin Geduld 2 con) HT: 14-7