All Blacks Sevens defend World Cup title with win over England

  • 23/07/2018

The All Blacks Sevens have defended their World Cup title with a tense 33-12 win over England at San Francisco.

Sione Molia opened the scoring for the Kiwis, when he broke the English defensive line and sprinted away for a try that was converted.

Molia also had New Zealand's second, diving over from a goal-line ruck to capitalising on a long period of territory advantage.

But just seconds before half-time, Mike Ellery pulled back a try for England, after a long run by Dan Norton down the right side-line.

The All Blacks held a 14-7 advantage at the break, but extended that with a try in the left corner by Joseva Ravouvou soon after the restart.

They let themselves down, though, with some weak tackling that allowed Ruaridh McConnochie to tip-toe down the side-line for a try that brought England back within a converted try.

With less than a minute on the clock, Akulia Rokolisoa sealed the victory, running of the shoulder of a half break by Trael Joass and eluding the final despairing English tackle.

The clock had expired, when Joass added the icing on the cake, skipping through the demoralised defence for a try of his own.

"This is massive," said captain Tim Mikkelson afterwards. "We knew coming into this, it would be tough.

"We were tested. Against France yesterday, we almost got knocked out.

"We really rose against Fiji and we did well to beat an awesome England team that we thought was the form team since the Comm Games really."

The men were also under pressure to replicate the achievements of the Black Ferns Sevens, who also defended their title and added to their gold-medal success at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

"Both teams train at the same place at the Mount," said Mikkelson. "They pushed us again by winning their title, so we had to step up and win ours.

"We have to give England credit - they're an amazing team and played amazing this weekend... we're just humbled to get that victory."

The result was a repeat of the last World Cup final in 2013, where New Zealand defeated England 33-0. Both teams overcame more-fancied opponents in the semis this time round, with the English overcoming South Africa on the other side of the draw.

Veteran Scott Curry was named Player of the Final, while Ravouvou as awarded the Mark of Excellence for his performance across the weekend.

Both the NZ men and women are due back in Auckland on Tuesday morning.