WELLINGTON (AFP) – New Zealand unearthed a new sevens prodigy in Reiko Ioane as they convincingly beat England 27-21 in the final of the Wellington round of the World Sevens series on Saturday.
It was the eighth time New Zealand have won their home tournament, and the final score flattered England who scored two late tries when the game was well beyond their reach.
The win lifted New Zealand to 69 points after four rounds, seven points behind series leaders South Africa who beat Scotland 40-7 in a play-off for third.
The final was all New Zealand with powerful 17-year-old Ioane scoring two tries to emerge as the star of the tournament with his extreme pace and ability to beat tacklers.
Ioane finished the weekend with six tries, one behind the tournament top try scorer Damien Hoyland of Scotland.
In the final New Zealand, playing without injured captain DJ Forbes, raced to a 10-0 lead with early tries by Dylan Collier and Gillies Kaka. A converted Marcus Watson try narrowed the gap when England had a one-man advantage with Joe Webber in the sin-bin.
When numbers were restored, Ioane’s first try pushed New Zealand out to 15-7 just on half-time. Further tries by Ioane and Scott Curry extended the lead out to 27-7 before late consolation tries to England by Tom Mitchell and John Brake.
New Zealand were not fully tested in the run up to the finals after going through pool play unbeaten on the first day and then beating Australia and South Africa in the quarter and semi finals.
England, however, were beaten by New Zealand in pool play and had a tough run to the finals.
In the quarter-finals it took four minutes of extra time before Christian Lewis-Pratt scored their winning try after the scores were tied 21-21 at the end of regulation play.
In the semi-finals they came from 19-0 down against Scotland to win 24-19 with the winning try again coming after the final hooter.
Fiji beat Australia 24-0 in the plate final and are third in the overall standings on 64 points.