Rugby sevens: NZ lose to South Africa in Vegas final

Photo / Getty Images.
Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand's poor record at the Las Vegas round of the World Sevens Series has continued, with South Africa winning the Cup final 14-7 today.

South Africa's victory has allowed them to take the series lead from Gordon Tietjens' men, who have never won a tournament in the Nevada city. South Africa lead the series ahead of the Wellington round which starts on February 7 by one point: 78-77. Fiji are third on 56.

It was a disappointing effort from New Zealand, who lost their main strike weapon Waisake Naholo to injury in the first half. They took the lead through a Scott Curry try in the first half but conceded a seven pointer on the stroke of half-time when Branco du Preez went in under the posts. In the second half New Zealand lacked accuracy in the set pieces and energy in open play.

Werner Kok scored the clinching try for South Africa, the defending champions, following a mistake from a New Zealand lineout, with Kok scorching down the sideline and pushing off replacement Ambrose Curtis to score in the corner.

Cecil Afrika was successful with the sideline conversion.

The loss brings down the curtain on a frustrating tournament for Tietjens, who lost Sam Dickson after pool play to a nine-match suspension for contact with the eye area on an unnamed Fiji player.

George Tilsley received a two-match ban for a tip tackle in the same match and returned to action in today's final.

New Zealand qualified for the final after coming from behind to beat Canada 24-7 in the semifinal. In the play-off for third against Samoa, Canada launched an extraordinary comeback to secure a stunning 22-19 victory. In the Plate final England beat Australia 26-24, with Fiji winning the Bowl final 35-0 over Kenya.

New Zealand's defeat in the final means they are in Fiji's pool for Wellington.

Cup result:

South Africa 14 (Branco du Preez, Werner Kok tries; Cecil Afrika 2 cons) beat NZ 7 (Scott Curry try; Gillies Kaka con).
HT: 7-7.

Wellington draw, Feb 7-8:

Pool A (South Africa, England, Wales, Portugal); Pool B (New Zealand, France, Fiji, Spain); Pool C (Canada, Argentina, Scotland, USA); Pool D (Samoa, Australia, Kenya, Tonga).

- APNZ

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