All Blacks 7s reign in Cape Town
16 December, 2019, 10:33 am
The nail-biting 7-5 victory was the All Blacks Sevens 11th Cup title in South Africa and takes them to equal top of the standings with South Africa after two rounds on the 2019/20 World Rugby Sevens circuit.
Only a week after South Africa had beaten the All Blacks Sevens 15-0 in the opening round of the 2020 Series in Dubai, the teams met for the 25th time in a Cup final with the Blitzboks bidding to win the first two rounds for the first time since triumphing in Dubai and George in 2008-09.
South Africa started the better, to the delight of the Cape Town Stadium crowd roaring them on, with Seabelo Senatla racing away only for a great tackle by Regan Ware to not only stop him but dislodge the ball but then a strong run from Kurt Baker took New Zealand into the Blitzboks’ 22.
The All Blacks Sevens continued to build the pressure in South Africa’s half but couldn’t find a way through and the Cup final was scoreless at half-time. It didn’t remain that way for long with Andrew Knewstubb dropping the kick-off and South Africa made New Zealand pay, Senatla finding Justin Geduld with just over a minute played.
New Zealand fumbled the restart again but Baker was able to stop South Africa from scoring a second try by regathering the loose ball, before causing the Blitzboks more trouble in defence with another run that saw him bounce out of tackles.
With three minutes to play, New Zealand silenced the crowd when they worked Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, who was later named HSBC Player of the Final, over for a try that Baker was able to convert to take the lead. A crucial lineout steal deep in their own half with a minute to go proved crucial as the All Blacks Sevens then held on to claim a first title in Cape Town since 2018.
New Zealand co-captain Scott Curry said: “We knew it was going to be a tough fight and nil all at half-time I guess is fitting for a crowd like this. Cape Town has really turned it on and the support here is amazing – we really appreciate it and all the support back home has been massive.
“It doesn’t get much better than that, playing South Africa in front of a home crowd with over 50,000 fans roaring the national anthem. It’s hard not to get inspired by that, even as a Kiwi.”
France claimed the bronze medal in dramatic fashion with Tavite Veredamu’s try in sudden-death extra-time securing a 29-24 victory over Fiji, their first win over the series champions since the Cup quarterfinals in Cape Town in 2015.
In the women’s side of the draw, the Black Ferns Sevens made it a black-out in Cape Town with a 17-7 victory over Australia.