11 Dec 2011

NZ sevens defend South African title

8:58 am on 11 December 2011

The defending champion New Zealand rugby sevens side has claimed their first title of the World Series, beating hosts South Africa 31-26 in the Cup final at Port Elizabeth.

The victory pushes New Zealand to top equal after three rounds of the World Series, level with Fiji.

New Zealand captain DJ Forbes opened the scoring in the second minute before Bernado Botha replied for South Africa.

A sinbinning helped Tomasi Cama score the champions' second try but the hosts kept pace with another score to Botha before Frank Halai crossed for a 17-14 half-time lead to New Zealand.

It was all South Africa after the break with two tries to Steven Hunt and Cecil Afrika before Halai brought it back to a two-point gap with another try for New Zealand - then a desperate last minute move brought Cama's 100th try and the victory.

The champions beat Australia 21-5 in the quarter-finals at Port Elizabeth, then saw off England 19-14 to make the final, after qualifying top of their pool with three emphatic victories.

New Zealand brushed aside Morocco 39-7 and crushed Scotland 45-0 before trouncing France 41-0.

Hosts South Africa conceded their first points at the quarter-final stage when they beat France 26-12, then edged Samoa 12-7 after topping their pool without conceding a single point.

Samoa beat England 17-14 in the third place playoff, after Wales thrashed series leaders Fiji 48-0 to win the Plate final - Fiji's worst-ever loss in the series.

Scotland beat Canada 22-19 in the Bowl final.