Dubai Sevens 2018 scores, results: New Zealand beat USA to win title; England edge Australia for bronze; Fiji fifth
- All Blacks Sevens win their first crown in Dubai since 2009
- Triumph adds to incredible year after Commonwealth Games and World Cup
It was perhaps only fitting that New Zealand would lift the Dubai Sevens title, given the year they’ve had.
The All Blacks Sevens have been collecting medals for fun in 2018, winning the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
The USA had been looking to avenge their disappointing showing in that tournament on home soil, but fell 21-5 to New Zealand in the Dubai final, as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series got off to a flier.
England earlier took bronze on Saturday night by edging Australia 15-14. Fiji won the fifth-place final, beating South Africa 24-19 in an extra-time thriller with two tries from debutant Aminiasi Tuimaba.
The first silverware of the season didn’t go to New Zealand, of course, but Samoa, who beat France 33-24 in the Challenge Trophy final.
— All Blacks Sevens (@AllBlacks7s) December 1, 2018
But it was New Zealand’s trinket that means more, especially given the injuries they had in the build-up to the tournament.
And they were down to nine players for the final with Scott Curry, Sam Dickson, Akuila Rokolisoa and Regan Ware all unavailable.
“We missed a few soldiers,” said Andrew Knewstubb, who was named player of the final.
“But you look across and try and connect on the field, we’re all great mates. The boys back home were cheering us on.”
Tone Ng Shiu broke the deadlock in a tight first half and Knewstubb converted for a 7-0 lead at the break.
But Luke Masirewa was then sin-binned early in the second half for a high tackle and the USA took full advantage.
After some quick releases from Folau Niua and Ben Pinkelman, Stephen Tomasin ran in from the left to make it 7-5 with four minutes remaining.
But Dylan Collier caught the USA napping and had just enough of a head start to get to the line ahead of the rapidly-approaching Carlin Isles.
Knewstubb’s conversion make it 14-5 before he came off, and Ngarohi McGarvey crossed at the death to crown the win for New Zealand.
In the bronze medal match, John Porch converted his own try to put Australia 7-0 up. Will Muir responded quickly for England after good offloads from Charlton Kerr and Tom Mitchell, but the conversion was missed.
An exceptional grubber through the middle from Maurice Longbottom fed Lachie Anderson who gave the ball a kick of his own before setting it down. Porch converted for a 14-5 lead.
One of the best kick tries of the tournament so far, beautiful link up play from Maurice Longbottom and Lachie Anderson #Dubai7s
Follow the Bronze final LIVE: https://t.co/Fj3DyGydpj pic.twitter.com/PlEoyxrMiY
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 1, 2018
Michael Ellery got England back in it after crossing on the right then Mitchell drove to the line and took a huge hit before feeding Harry Glover to win it.
Not many would have thought before the tournament that South Africa and Fiji would be contesting the fifth-place semi-final.
But their respective defeats by England and the USA meant the fans at the Sevens Stadium got an early treat on Saturday.
Mesu Kunalolo opened the scoring for Fiji but Muller du Plessis crashed over in the final seconds of the half. Dewald Human’s conversion tied the score at 7-7.
However, we all know how determined the Blitzboks are and their youngster, Muller du Plessis, has the power to crash over late on. The conversion locks things up.
Tuimaba, 23, then turned on the afterburners to burst down the right wing and score, with Waisea Nacuqu converting.
But the lead didn’t last long, Du Plessis getting over the line with power after some nimble footwork on the left. Du Plessis then completed his hat-trick, picking the ball up off the deck and driving over to make it 19-14 with under a minute left.
But a brilliant pass on the turn over the top fed Nacuqu to sprint through a gap and tie it up for Fiji. Victory looked assured with the kick in front of the pots but Vilimoni Botitu shanked it wide to the right to ensure extra-time.
But Botitu’s blushes were spared when Tuimaba clinched victory with a delightful chip and collect.