LOS ANGELES (AFP) – New Zealand beat Australia 17-14 to win the Vancouver Sevens yesterday and solidify their lead in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Second-half yellow cards to Maurice Longbottom and Lachie Miller proved costly for Australia as New Zealand came from behind to win their third sevens title this season after triumphs in Cape Town and Hamilton.
Australia had a chance to claim a victory after New Zealand’s Sam Dickson was sin-binned late, but a wild forward pass from Lewis Holland allowed the Kiwis to hang on.
Australia were down by two men with four minutes remaining when Joe Ravouvou scored his second try to put New Zealand ahead.
Australia had dominated the opening five minutes, but managed to score just once on a try from Anderson.
Ravouvou dotted down for New Zealand’s first try, but Australia led 14-5 at halftime after a breakaway try by Longbottom.
After Longbottom was sin-binned for a high tackle early in the second half Andrew Knewstubb’s try trimmed the deficit to two points.
Miller was then shown a yellow card over a late tackle and New Zealand took advantage.
New Zealand top the standings on 115 points with South Africa second on 104. Fiji are third on 83 and Australia fourth on 81.
Earlier, suffocating defence had keyed New Zealand’s 17-5 quarter-final win over Fiji.
Tries from Tim Mikkeson and Sione Molia saw New Zealand take a 12-0 halftime lead as the Fijians struggled to get their running game going.
Fiji’s lone try, by Josua Vakurnuabili, came with New Zealand down a man. But the All Blacks Sevens responded by securing the ball on the re-start and finishing with a try from Joe Ravouvou. Two tries from Caleb Clark, along with one each from Mikkeson, Etene Nanai-Seturo and Sam Dickson gave New Zealand a 27-15 win over South Africa in the semis.
Australia downed England 31-12 in the quarters, then ended the dream run of Canada – who had beaten Spain 21-0 to reach the final four – with a dramatic 19-14 semi-final win.
Australia led by five going into the final seconds only for Canada to win a turnover and seize a chance to snatch the victory.
The hosts appeared to have pulled it off when Theo Sauder burst through the defensive line, but a video review showed he had lost the ball over the line.
Canada had grabbed the opening try before Lachie Miller evaded his Canadian pursuers and offloaded to Nick Malouf, who got it back to Anderson for an equalising try.
A try from Henry Hutchinson and another from Miller followed in quick succession. But a try from Mike Fuailefau saw Canada narrow the deficit to five points with less than two minutes remaining.
Although they didn’t make it to the final, Canada finished on a high note with a 26-19 victory over South Africa in the bronze medal match.