|NZ retain George Sevens title|
|Written by Hemant|
|Sunday, 12 December 2010|
Down to six men, and deep into injury time, New Zealand stole an
unlikely 22-19 win over England in the final of the IRB rugby sevens at
George in South Africa.
Down to six men, and deep into injury time, New Zealand stole an unlikely 22-19 win over England in the final of the IRB rugby sevens at George in South Africa today.
The win was especially pleasing after the Gordon Tietjens-coached team lost to England in the semifinals of last week's series opener in Dubai.
Tomasi Cama was the hero for New Zealand, nailing a penalty in the fourth minute of injury time as New Zealand won in South Africa for the fourth time in five years.
New Zealand hit back with two wins over England at George - a 20-7 win in pool play on Friday, and again in today's dramatic final.
England jumped out to an early 14-0 through tries to Ben Gollings and James Rodwell, but New Zealand hit back just before halftime when Declan O'Donnell outpaced the English defence to score in the left corner.
Captain DJ Forbes then finished a New Zealand breakout from deep in their own half, before Tim Mikkelson sprinted down the left wing to score, Cama's conversion giving the defending champions a 19-14 lead.
Mat Turner made it 19-19 with England's only second-half try, before New Zealander Bryce Heem was sinbinned.
With the final hooter having sounded three minutes earlier, England paid the price for an infringement at a ruck deep inside their own half.
"Fair play to them they got a penalty at the end and that was it really," said England coach Ben Ryan. "I thought we dragged ourselves back in and were certainly good enough to win this game. We let them win in the end ... I hate to finish like that.
"We wanted to play at the end. We could have kicked into touch and gone to extra time but you back yourself and unfortunately that's what's happened."
Tietjens was almost as pleased with the performance of his young squad as he was with Cama's match-winner.
"We were down to six men, and it was unlikely we were going to break the English defence at the end.
"He's been kicking well, so we gave it a crack and it won us the game," Tietjens said.
"We had to do it the hard way with six men at the end, so it was a tremendous result for us. All credit to the new young guys, seven new players - I couldn't ask for more."
Forbes also gave his rookies a pat on the back.
"The key thing is that we came here with seven new caps, and they really stood up," he said.
"England are a difficult side - they're well-coached, well-drilled and they've got a lot of tricks up their sleeves. To knuckle down, and to beat them twice back-to-back was a credit to the boys and Titch's coaching."
England lead the series, but New Zealand have closed to within four points in second place, heading to their home tournament in Wellington on February 4-5.
Earlier, New Zealand had to survive a semifinal cliffhanger against Fiji to make the final. After trailing 5-12 at halftime, and with the scores locked at 19-19 as full time loomed, Jackson Ormond crossed to secure New Zealand's finals berth 26-19.
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