New Zealand wins New Zealand Sevens for 7th time
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand beat South Africa 21-0 Saturday in the final of the Wellington Sevens to win its home leg of the International Rugby Board World Series for the seventh time, the first since 2012.
Sherwin Stowers scored two tries and Tim Mikkelson one as New Zealand overwhelmed South Africa in their third-straight final meeting on the world circuit. South Africa had won both of their previous meetings, at Las Vegas and in their home tournament at Port Elizabeth, but New Zealand proved too strong Saturday in front of 34,000 home fans.
The hosts had opened the tournament with a loss to 12-7 loss to arch-rivals Fiji but scored 178 points without conceding a point in their remaining matches, reaching the final with a 31-0 win over defending champions England.
The win carried New Zealand into first place in the overall standings after five of nine rounds of the world series. They now lead South Africa by two points while Fiji - who beat England 14-7 in the playoff for third and fourth, are in third place.
The final day of the tournament was played in persistently wet conditions which suited New Zealand and disadvantaged the more expansive teams.
South Africa struggled to adapt as a result of the weather and subsequently gave up too many turnovers in the final.
“What a better place to beat South Africa after five straight losses,” New Zealand captain DJ Forbes said. “We really wanted that.
“For all the fans who turned out in this weather we thank you. It was a really gutsy performance.”
New Zealand did all of its scoring in the first half, then absorbed South Africa’s attempted rally following the interval.
Tim Mikkelson opened the scoring with a try after two minutes, converted by Gillies Kaka and Stowers rocked South Africa with tries in the fifth and eighth minutes, both of which Kaka converted.
Fiji took third place with a 14-7 win over England in the third-fourth playoff after losing 10-0 to South Africa in the semifinals.