Kiwis keep rugby crown


  • Other Sport
  • Saturday, 18 Mar 2006

NEW Zealand retained their Commonwealth Games rugby union sevens title comfortably beating England 29-21. 

Fiji beat Australia 24-17 in the bronze medal play-off. 

New Zealand, who won the Commonwealth Games gold in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and Manchester in 2002 and have triumphed in all six editions of the IRB World Series Sevens, mixed raw aggression with sublime passing and poaching skills to outscore England by five tries to three. 

Cory Jane opened the scoring for New Zealand after two minutes, muscling his way through Tom Varndell's weak tackle. 

HAT-TRICK: The New Zealand players celebrates with Amasio Valenceon their shoulders after beating England 29-21 in the final of therugby sevens event yesterday. – REUTERSpic

England hit straight back through the impressive Mathew Tait, who outsprinted the covering Amasio Valence for his ninth try of the tournament – making him the highest points scorer in the competition. 

Highlanders flanker Josh Blackie then scorched into the corner for the Kiwis to retake the lead. 

With England under relentless attack, Lote Raikabula breached the defence again, jinking his way past Varndell and wrong-footing England captain Simon Amor to score on the stroke of half-time. 

But Tait was not finished, driving towards the Kiwi line two minutes into the second-half. From the resulting ruck, the Czech-born Andy Vilk walked in for an easy try that Amor converted. 

Valence's three missed conversions meant the score stood at 15-14 to New Zealand, but the playmaker – only in the Kiwi squad due to Doug Howlett's injury – soon made amends after England's defence allowed him too much space and he found Liam Messam with a perfect scoring pass in the corner. 

From the restart, Blackie – one of six Super 14 players called up by Gordon Tietjens to bolster the squad – capitalised on a dropped pass and outstretched the defence to score his second try. 

Tamati Ellison hit both conversions to pull the Kiwis away to a comfortable 15-point lead they were happy to sit back on. 

Ben Gollings showed great grit to score a late consolation try for England but by then the Kiwis knew they had their third successive gold medal in the bag. 

Fiji, silver medallists four years ago and beaten in the semi-finals by England, claimed bronze, a Neumi Nanuku hat-trick helping the Pacific islanders to a 24-17 win over Australia. 

In the Bowl competition, Kenya beat Tonga 26-12 thanks to an inspiring two-try display by the outstanding Teddy Omondi. – AFP 

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