New Zealand have kicked their 2009/10 IRB Sevens World Series campaign off to the perfect start by winning the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, beating Samoa in a scintillating final.
Back to the Sevens world order of old?
In doing so they win their first IRB Sevens event in 18 months to take an early lead in the new World Series with 24 points, ahead of Samoa (20), England and Fiji (16 apiece). Reigning World Series champions South Africa kicked their season off in disappointing fashion, beaten by a superb performance from young Australia in the final of the Plate.
Australia claims famous Plate victory
Australia’s youngsters claimed a superb victory against the full-time Sevens professionals of South Africa to take the Plate trophy in Dubai.
Earlier South Africa won an all-African affair against Kenya, coming from behind to score from a clever cross kick, before Michael O’Connor’s young Australians hit back from the disappointment of their late loss against Samoa to overwhelm a strong Argentina team.
Brother-in-arms. Zar Lawrence leads the traditional Haka for New Zealand (Pic: IRB/Chris Jelf)
Trusted All Black core
Gordon Tietjens’ trusted core of captain DJ Forbes, Zar Lawrence, Lote Raikabula and Tomasi Cama played their hearts out for the kiwis as the men in black punished every blemish in a fine final by the proud Samoans, themselves starting afresh under new coach Stephen Betham.
New Zealand and Samoa each performed heroics in winning through to the final with fine respective wins over Fiji and England in front of 40,000 spectators at ‘the Sevens’ stadium.
Inspired by captain DJ Forbes and his brother in arms Zar Lawrence, New Zealand blitzed Fiji in a supreme show of aggressive and confrontational Sevens to win the first semi final 19-0.
Samoa then started like a steam train against England, quickly establishing a lead with Alafoti Fa’osiliva and new captain Lolo Lui outstanding, and applying the pressure throughout to deny England, who hit back but could not overhaul the islanders’ lead.
The last time the Samoans faced New Zealand in a Cup final, they beat them to win their first IRB Sevens Cup final in Wellington in February 2007.
Video from IRB.com
IRB Sevens Series log
The points-table after the Dubai Sevens are:
New Zealand (24)
South Africa (8)