Kiwis edge Aussies for Canada Sevens title, Blitzboks lose to hosts
VANCOUVER – New Zealand scored while Australia was reduced to five men Sunday to secure a 17-14 comeback win in the final of the Canada Sevens, its third title of the World Rugby Sevens season.
Joe Ravouvou scored the second of his two tries while Australia's Maurice Longbottom and Lachie Miller were in the sin-bin and New Zealand then held on to win, though it ended the game with six players after Scott Dixon was also shown a yellow card.
New Zealand, which also won the Hamilton and Cape Town legs of the World Series, now leads South Africa by 11 points in the overall standings with four rounds remaining, including the Singapore and Hong Kong legs.
New Zealand faced a tough road to the final, having to beat Olympic champion Fiji in the quarterfinals and LA Sevens winner South Africa in the semis. It won both matches with relative comfort, beating Fiji 17-5 and South Africa 27-15 - reversing the result of the previous weekend's semifinals in LA.
Australia beat England 31-12 in the quarterfinals and hosts Canada 19-14 in the semis. Canada beat South Africa 26-19 in the playoff for third place, its best result of the season.
Australia led 14-5 in the final after a dominant first half in which it scored tries through Lachie Anderson and Longbottom while Ravouvou scored his first for New Zealand.
Andrew Knewstub scored from an intercept, then Ravouvou added his second as New Zealand edged ahead in a tight second half to claim its first Canada title since 2016.
"Every time New Zealand plays Aussie it's a huge game," New Zealand captain Tim Mikkelson said. "Aussie's been playing amazing footy the last couple of weeks to be honest.
“We talked about how it was going to take the whole 12 to beat them and it did.”
New Zealand picked up its third title in six events this series and leads the standings with 115 points, 11 clear of South Africa, 32 head of third-place Fiji. Australia moved into fourth spot with 81 points, four ahead of fifth-place England.
The bronze was Canada's first podium finish in the series since winning in Singapore in 2017, and a confidence boost ahead of the Olympics.
Associated Press (AP)