All Blacks take Singapore 7s
April 21, 2002

New Zealand claimed their fourth title in the world rugby sevens series 2002, defeating Argentina 21-17 in the final of the Singapore Sevens at the National Stadium on Sunday.

England reached the semi finals of the Singapore Sevens tournament but were beaten by eventual winners New Zealand.

Joe Lydon's side left themselves a tricky route to the final after losing their final pool game to Argentina last night.

And though England beat South Africa 15-7 in the quarter final, the All Blacks proved too great a hurdle in the last four.

Top seeds for the tournament, the Kiwis now increase their lead in the series to 138 points. South Africa are second on 96 followed by Fiji (94), England (90), Samoa (76), Australia (76) and
Argentina (74).

World sevens series winners in 2000 and 2001, the Kiwis look set for a hat-trick of titles as the 2002 series heads towards a climax with only three more legs to be played.

New Zealand sevens coach Gordon Tietjens was full of praise for his team, saying: "This is a young team. The suspension of the captain (Dallas Seymour) and vice captain (Craig de Goldi) of the
team today made them all the more determined to win the title here. But we cannot afford to take things easy just yet as there are still three more legs.

"Next weekend's competition in Kuala Lumpur will be very important as the weather is the same as here. Last year we lost to Australia in the final so this time we want to go all the way," said a beaming Tietjens after the final.

Speaking about team tactics, New Zealand's stand-in captain Damian Karauna felt they need to watch out for Argentina in the future.

"We had a team with an average age of 22-23. But we combined well, especially to counter the challenge of Argentina's tactics of kick-throughs.
We had been watching them during the morning games and more or less knew what to expect, but knowing and doing are two different things," said Karauana.

Tietjens chipped in with: "Don't forget Argentina are the sleeping giants of sevens rugby, which gives younger and younger players a chance to shine on the world stage."

Argentina's coach Daniel Hourcade, speaking through an interpreter, said: "The last time we played New Zealand in Santiago, Chile, we were beaten 26-5. This time it was 21-17. So we are trying to bridge the gap. Maybe next time."

New Zealand's young players did make the most of the opportunity, 18-year-old Joe Rokocoko using his long legs to good advantage to score two tries. And with Chris Masoe adding another,
the Kiwis looked to be sailing through.

But Argentina fought back through tries by Lucas Borges, Lucio Lopez Fleming and Martin Schusterman but failure to make no more than one conversion cost them dear.

Fiji beat a severely weakened Samoan team 64-5 in the Plate final, Wales won the Bowl while Korea took home the shield.

The teams now move on to Malaysia for the ninth leg of the world sevens series before the final two legs in London and Cardiff in late May.

The disciplinary committee of the IRB World Sevens Series in Singapore has decided to suspend seven players - two from New Zealand and five from Samoa - after late night deliberations following Saturday's incident when the teams came to blows during their final Pool A game.

New Zealand's Craig de Goldi has been suspended from all rugby for 12 weeks and the same punishment has been meted out to Samoa's Gaolo Elisara, Ron Fanuatanu, Ponali Tapelu, Faapito Matagotau and Maurie Faasaualu for their role in the fist-fight.

Dallas Seymour, the New Zealand team captain who was also sent off by the match referee along with de Goldi after the fracas, has been suspended for three world sevens series games only. That means
Seymour will take no further part in this tournament but will be available to play in the ninth leg in Malaysia next week.

Samoa's Ioane Evalu also has a misconduct charge pending against him. The tournament's disciplinary committee did not take any action against the player as he was not part of the team that drew 17-17 with New Zealand, though he had left the bench area and traded punches with the Kiwi team members during the incident.

Another Samoa player, Semo Siti, officially recorded as having been given the red card but who stayed on the field last night, has been spared any punishment as the disciplinary committee found him innocent.

After a review of the match video, the committee came to the conclusion that the wrong player had been "sent off" and Siti has been spared any punishment.

The decisions were announced on Sunday morning after the meeting continued well past midnight.

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