Andrew Alderson

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

Rugby sevens: Cama shines as Tietjens' men keep focus

Veteran playmaker Tomasi Cama offered a forecast on the evening ahead for the New Zealand sevens sides after men's and women's World Cup glory at Luzhniki stadium.

He came out, trophy in hand, to front the media. Someone suggested the trophy was shiny.

"Might get dirty," he quipped.

The comment reflected the collective relief of securing triumphs in a brave new sevens world where investment has increased now it is on the Olympic programme.

New Zealand Rugby can temporarily bask in the glory of maintaining high standards against that threat but vigilance and dedication to the sevens programme will be needed if such success is to be repeated at Rio de Janeiro.

The New Zealand sides generated the second biggest cheer from the paltry crowd in three days of competition when they each completed haka to celebrate.

Both sides benefited from a bizarre weather change which turned the sun-baked turf into the equivalent of Waikato farm paddock in August. It was slip-slop-slap; players slipped, a lot of the ball presentation was sloppy and thighs took a slapping in tackles.

The New Zealanders wallowed in the mud. The men's side had to come off the field 12-0 up in the 17-0 win over Fiji because of the threat of a lightning strike.

Sir Gordon Tietjens reflected on the change in circumstances in his second World Cup victory, 12 years after his first.

"It was a challenge not to lose focus sitting in the dressing room. In the end it might have assisted and worked in our favour.

"It was quite disruptive but we stuck to our game plan against England. It was a comprehensive win. They played right into our hands and we knew they would.

"I couldn't believe our luck when they kept kicking it back to us. It might have been a kickfest at times but we had too. I don't normally like doing it but today was about winning a World Cup which meant playing percentages and the best footy."

Women's playmaker Kelly Brazier said she did likewise with her wipers kicks for the women.

"It was all about possession and territory, when we needed to play down there we did. I tried to pin it in the corners.

"The conditions have been extreme. Yesterday it was warm and humid; today it was a mudbath and tough under foot."

Tietjens says his players responded to the pressure after tepid pool play.

"I'm pleased about the younger players putting their hand up. But we needed the more experienced guys like Tomasi Cama, DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson and Lote Raikabula to bring them through.

"I can't wait to get my hands on the next crop of players coming through in the under-20s. That's what South Africa have done."

"Some other teams brought in Super Rugby players who hadn't been conditioned for 7s. All except one of ours [Waisake Naholo] had been on the world circuit this year."

Tietjens invited sevens greats Eric Rush and Jonah Lomu to speak to the team before departure.

"They talked about getting the buzz going in the team. We stalled for the first two days but today we played superbly."

Portia Woodman was a star for the women with 12 tries. Her sidestep and pace were international talking points.

"My job was just to finish. I've been watching Kelly Brazier, she's 'the man' in our team, so I've been learning off her. Netball probably helps as well. It's nice when it comes off."

Kayla McAlister said it was special to do it in front of a number of supporters: "I'm pretty sure there were more Kiwis here than Russians."

*Andrew Alderson travelled to Moscow courtesy of New Zealand Rugby

Finals - Men
New Zealand 33 (T.Mikkelson 2, T.Cama, G.Kaka, W.Naholo tries; Cama 3 con, Kaka con) England 0. HT: 21-0.
Women
New Zealand 29 (P.Woodman 2, K.Brazier, H.Hireme, K.McAlister tries; Brazier con, T.Nathan-Wong con) Canada 12 (A.Dubissette-Borrice, G.Landry tries; A.Steacy con) HT: 17-5

- Herald on Sunday

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