All Blacks take Dubai Sevens
November 24, 2000

New Zealand made it two rounds out of two in the 2000-1 World Sevens Series by defeating Fiji 38-12 in the final of the Dubai tournament, writes Alan Lorimer.

The All Blacks unsurprisingly remain at the top of the Series table after adding the Dubai title to their victory last weekend in Durban with the same points total in the final that they achieved last year in the Gulf.

Fiji had looked the only side capable of challenging the mighty New Zealanders but there was a question mark over the ability of the what was a new-look side to cope with the ultimate pressure in sevens rugby.

In the event Fiji looked nervous as they faced New Zealand in the Emirates Trophy final, conceding a quick try to Amasio Valence after a mistake on their own line. Then when Karl Te Nana and Joeli Vidiri crossed for tries New Zealand were 19 points ahead without reply.

Fiji finally got into their rhythm with a try Senirusi Rauque who added a second touchdown minutes later. But two tries by Jared Going and a second for Valence wrapped up the title for New Zealand.

Fiji will field a different team in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Argentina in January with the return of Waisale Serevi and Vilimoni Delasau, among a number of top stars expected to return for the Mar del Plata tournament.

South Africa won the Plate final here with a controversial penalty try awarded just on full time to give the Springbok seven a 14-12 win over Argentina.

After their storming performance on day one, when they finished winners in their group, Zimbabwe disappointed, losing by 33-10 to a physical Samoa side in the quarter finals of the main Emirates Trophy.

The result put Zimbabwe into the semi-finals of the Plate but here too they failed to reproduce their sparkling initial form of against winners Argentina.

Earlier England's progress in the Dubai Sevens firmly hit the buffers as South Africa produced a flamboyant display to finish winners by 45-0 in the second of the Plate semi-finals.

England's coach Adrian Thompson admitted: "I can't pretend I'm not disappointed and I certainly do not want to put any spin on the evaluation of the team's performance. We were outclassed against South Africa.

"But if we can get a good run in these tournaments and if we can prepare properly over next summer then I think that we could be reaching at least the semi-finals by next season."

Nor was there any satisfaction for Wales who narrowly lost to Ireland by 19-17 in the second of the Bowl semi-finals. Wales's only win on the second day came in the Bowl quarter finals when they dismissed Hong Kong by 19-12 - all three of the Wales tries coming from skipper Owain Williams.

After watching his side drop out of the tournament at the semi-final stage of the Bowl, Wales manager John Ryan said: "We're in the same position as Ireland and England in that we have not treated the [sevens] game as a specialist sport.

"We now need to ask ourselves in Wales whether we want to be part of the world sevens circuit or not."

It was left to Ireland to carry the hopes of the Home Unions and they delivered with a storming second half performance that produced a 27-19 win over Morocco in the Bowl final.

Things looked bleak for the Irish when they trailed 19-5 at half-time, Derek Hegarty managing their only try. But a superb display of attacking rugby and rugged defence turned the match.

Aiden Kearney sparked the comeback when he collected his own chip ahead to score, followed by further tries by James Topping and Matt Mostyn. Gavin Duffy's conversion of Mostyn's try put the Irish ahead 24-19, and then the young Galwegian made certain of victory wih a dropped goal.

Irish manager Kurt McQuilkin said: " We improved throughout the tournament and the Bowl win was the perfect ending. It will certainly do our confidence the world of good ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens in January."

New Zealand have now taken maximum points from the two opening tournaments as they look to defend the 1999-2000 World Sevens Series crown they won last May.

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