IRB World Sevens Series
New Zealand claim the Hong Kong crown
March 30, 2014
New Zealand beat England 26-7 to regain the Hong Kong Sevens crown.
After a tight start to the final, New Zealand took charge with tries from Tim Mikkelson and Ben Lam, the latter accompanied by boos from the crowd on the touchline who were sure he had been taken into touch. England struck back with a try from Tom Powell on the stroke of half-time.
DJ Forbes restored New Zealand's advantage but England were given a boost when Lam was controversially sin-binned for tackling a player without the ball. They were unable to capitalise and before Lam returned Sam Dickson put the game out of reach with New Zealand's fourth try.
England seemed to have secured a late consolation when Marcus Watson touched down but it was ruled out for a forward pass.
New Zealand beat Australia 19-7 in their semi-final while England knocked out defending champions Fiji 17-7.
Fiji gained some solace by beating Australia 21-12 in the third-place play-off, a game which was played with less than full-on intensity.
South Africa beat Wales 19-14 in the Plate final while Scotland easily saw off France 31-5 in the Bowl final.
New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said his team had produced their best performance of the series in winning in Hong Kong, improving considerably on their fourth placing in Tokyo a week earlier to claim third victory of the campaign, after wins in Gold Coast and Wellington.
"It's a great, great victory in real challenging conditions," he said. "Our captain DJ Forbes was just, simply, simply outstanding ... without singling out individuals, he was just quite amazing."
England's pace was too much for South Africa and two-time Hong Kong defending champions Fiji en route to the final, but they struggled for possession against a New Zealand side led up front by Forbes and 2013 world player of the year Tim Mikkelson.
"There's a couple of us out there putting our heads in dark places," Forbes said. "There's a place for that. We're happy to do the contact stuff so maybe the conditions fell into our hands a little bit."
By making the final, the All Blacks Sevens, the IRB World Sevens Series defending champions, go back to the top of the points table after previous leaders South Africa failed to make it past the quarter-finals.
New Zealand last claimed the Hong Kong title in 2011, when their opponents in the final were also England.
Marcus Watson scores during England's semi-final win © Getty Images
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