Reinforcements can't come fast enough for NZ sevens

By Campbell Burnes

Sonny Bill Williams takes a selfie with fans during the Singapore Sevens rugby tournament. Photo / AFP
Sonny Bill Williams takes a selfie with fans during the Singapore Sevens rugby tournament. Photo / AFP

The reinforcements are coming, and not a moment too soon.

The All Blacks Sevens will be looking to the return of Super Rugby stars Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane and Ardie Savea, not to mention DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson and Sam Dickson, as they contemplate the final two World Series tournaments in Paris and London next month.

This follows a middling effort in Singapore, where they reached the Plate final against Samoa late last night, falling to third on the standings.

A horrible 24-0 day one shutout by France was followed by half-game displays in wins over Canada and USA, before their lack of speed and direction on attack were exposed in the 12-7 Cup quarter-final loss to South Africa yesterday.

But they did bounce back with a convincing 31-7 Plate semifinal win over a deflated Australia, who should by all rights have contested the Cup semi, had they not allowed Fiji two tries in the final two minutes.

Sonny Bill Williams finally started to click on attack, two of his offloads leading directly to tries, while Kurt Baker, who assumed the captaincy mantle from the rested Liam Messam, ran the cutter with aplomb, making a solid case for inclusion in Rio.

Isaac Te Aute, who scored the finest solo schoolboy try of 2015, in the Top 4 final for Rotorua BHS, crossed for his first in New Zealand colours, while Teddy Stanaway enhanced his case with a willing outing.

But there is the real feeling that only 4-5 of this squad will feature in May when the Olympic selection, and the final push to clinch the World Series, gains momentum.

Coach Sir Gordan Tietjens was pleased with his side's efforts on day two despite the two defeats.

"I thought we played extremely well against South Africa. Very unlucky not to win that. Extremely well against Australia and at times extremely well against Samoa, but disappointed to lose that at fulltime."

"If I had to look at what we've achieved over the last few days I think we've developed some good young players and that's what happens when you get a few injuries in your team."

Tietjens said Williams stood out for his side.

"I thought he [Williams] excelled in this tournament. He's just getting better and better in each game and tournament that he plays."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 09 Dec 2016 15:02:56 Processing Time: 533ms