Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Sevens: Payback for NZ sevens side

Captain D J Forbes. Photo / Getty Images
Captain D J Forbes. Photo / Getty Images

A rejuvenated New Zealand men's sevens team advanced to the quarter-finals of the World Cup last night, dismantling Wales 26-10.

There was a sense of utu about the victory: Wales ousted New Zealand from the 2009 World Cup, also at the quarter-final stage.

Play-maker Gillies Kaka said that was a key motivation for captain DJ Forbes, Tomasi Cama and Lote Raikabula, who were part of the previous team. "Some of the older boys had it in their minds; it was good to get one back for them."

New Zealand played the remainder of the tournament overnight, seeking to secure a second World Cup. The first was won in 2001 but the two previous attempts failed despite Sir Gordon Tietjens' side winning 11 of 14 world series since the advent of the circuit in 1999-2000.

The tournament continued to be played in front of a largely empty Luzhniki Stadium.

New Zealand were not convincing in the pool stages, edging to wins over Canada, Georgia and the United States.

In the latter match they were down 19-5 until midway through the second half before winning 26-19.

Most of their earlier errors were eradicated against Wales although they were penalised at the breakdown. New Zealand also showed variety at first-receiver to keep Wales guessing; they also switched direction at will.

The NZ women's side continued their dominance, beating England 24-7 in the quarter-finals.

Their "rubber band theory" game plan was simple but effective, as it has been all tournament: exhaust the opposition by playing width and stretching it across the field - then ping through the gaps.

Wings Honey Hireme and Portia Woodman were helped by clinical play-making from captain Huriana Manuel, Kelly Brazier and Kayla McAlister.

Of the starting seven, Linda Itunu delivered bruising tackles and Sarah Goss was abrasive, especially barging through a lineout on the English line to touch down a loose ball.

New Zealand played largely error-free. Conceding a scrum tighthead and allowing Heather Fisher the room for a 60m solo try were at the top of a slim rap sheet.

•Andrew Alderson travelled to Moscow courtesy of New Zealand Rugby.

- NZ Herald

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