World Rugby Sevens Series
New Zealand steal Sydney 7s from Australia after final siren
Sam Bruce
February 7, 2016
Cameron Clark was gallant in defeat for Australia © Getty Images

New Zealand have taken out the inaugural Sydney 7s, defeating Australia with a try after the siren in a thrilling final at Allianz Stadium.

The All Blacks 7s stole the result for the second straight week, Rieko Ioane's third try condemning Australia to the same fate as South Africa in Wellington from seven days ago.

The Australians had led the match throughout but Ioane's post-siren effort saw them fall 27-24, ensuring the Thunderbolts' near four-year run without a tournament win will extend for at least another month yet.

New Zealand captain Tim Mikkelson said he knew his side would fight right through until the final whistle.

"Yeah you know, I suppose after last night and last week, we got a bit of confidence that in the end of the games, that if we can hold onto the ball and get the possession we can hold onto it and maybe we can put on some points," Mikkelson said.

New Zealand break Aussie hearts

"But Aussie really put us under the pump early in the game and they've got a young team, but they're growing and it's looking good for the future."

New Zealand had the better of the opening exchanges as Joe Webber went within a few metres of the line and then Akira Ioane threatened to split the Australians open.

But the hosts' defence held and they soon had the first points as livewire winger Henry Hutchison picked up an inside ball from Cameron Clark to cross beside the posts.

The Australians looked certain to go in again when they won the kick-off and quickly moved to within striking distance of the line. The All Blacks scrambled in defence however, and soon won a turnover, the change in possession freeing up Akira Ioane, who palmed Hutchison away like a ragdoll, and then floated a pass back inside to his brother, Rieko, for the run to the line.

The momentum then swung back the Australians' way as New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams was sent to the sin-bin, much to the delight of the home fans.

Cameron Clark gets away from Sonny Bill Williams, Australia vs New Zealand, 2016 Sydney 7s Cup Final, HSBC Sevens World Series, Allianz Stadium, February 7, 2016
Cameron Clark gets away from Sonny Bill Williams © Getty Images

The Aussies wasted little time in making the most of their one-man advantage with Hutchison picking up his second in the corner after a sweet sequence of passes.

But there was time for New Zealand to answer before the break and that's exactly what they did as Williams, restored to the paddock, claimed the kick-off and then set Kurt Baker on a run down the left touchline to lock it up at 12-all.

The Australians very nearly fell behind upon the resumption as Rieko Ioane tore down the left touchline only to be called back by the assistant referee. The hosts survived that near miss and then went back in front as Lewis Holland threw a brilliant long pass to Sam Myers, who outsprinted the cover to the corner.

Again, the lead didn't last long. This time it was New Zealand skipper Tim Mikkelson who answered for the visitors, the 7s veteran showing just enough toe to beat James Stannard to the line; the conversion was wide, leaving the score at 17-apiece.

New Zealand soon threatened again but a brilliant cover tackle saw Regan Ware knock-on and, from the ensuing scrum, Cameron Clark barged through two All Blacks defenders and drew the sweeper to put Greg Jeloudev through, the winger palming away one final defender and running right round under the posts for a crucial score.

Again New Zealand answered, this time through Rieko Ioane, only Kurt Baker was unable to land the kickable conversion, meaning Australia held a 24-22 lead with under a minute to play.

But the visitors had one final chance to steal it when they managed to hold up an Australian maul, and just as they'd done in Wellington against South Africa, they found the line in dramatic fashion.

Rieko Ioane celebrates scoring a try, Australia v New Zealand, Sydney 7s Cup final, HSBC Sevens World Series, Allianz Stadium, February 7, 2016
Rieko Ioane celebrates scoring a try © Getty Images

The Aussies, understandably, were left heartbroken.

"Yeah listen they were gutted after that, which is a good thing too, you don't want them to be happy," coach Andy Friend said.

"But we said to them they should be really proud of that performance; two games, 34 minutes against New Zealand and we're three points behind them. But we've got to be better.

"So I think the boys got a lot of belief out of the last two weeks especially -- we've just got to keep improving."

In the playoff for third, Fiji ensured their legion of supporters went home happy with a 26-12 victory over South Africa.

The Pacific Islanders were only narrowly beaten by New Zealand in the semi-final but they will be desperate to add to their lone tournament victory from Dubai when the World Series resumes in Las Vegas in early March.

Meanwhile, Argentina defeated Kenya 24-0 to take out the Plate, Canada upset Samoa 17-12 to claim the Bowl and Wales took out the Shield with a 26-19 victory over Russia.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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