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New Zealand teams through to semifinals in Hong Kong

New Zealand teams through to semifinals in Hong Kong

All BlacksApril 7, 2024

The All Blacks and Black Ferns Sevens are through to the semifinals of the Hong Kong Sevens. Both sides will play Australia to earn the right to defend their Cup titles.

The Black Ferns Sevens had a 14-game win streak broken by France in their last pool match but routine victories against Great Britain (24-5) and Brazil (33-5) ensured a passage through to the quarter-finals where New Zealand overpowered Canada (26-5).

The All Blacks Sevens were an unsatisfactory 10th in Los Angles but have won all four matches, eliminating Fiji 19-12 in a tense quarter-final. In SVNS history New Zealand and Fiji have beaten each other 59 times each.

All Blacks Sevens

The All Blacks Sevens topped Pool B with victories over Great Britain (12-7), Argentina (22-0) and USA (12-7). The whitewash of series leaders Argentina was the best performance of the season. New Zealand was aggressive, composed, and organised on defense while being clinical on the attack. Tries were scored by Fehi Fineanganofo, Moses Leo, Tone Ng Shiu, and Cody Vai. Leo was particularly impressive. His jump step and 60-meter runaway at the start of the second half was the blow that broke Argentina. Leo had charged 65 metres in the first half.

Argentina is without World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year nominee Marcos Moneta who suffered a broken fibula. He is expected to be out for at least six weeks.

“One of our goals coming in was we had Argentina, and our goal was to kick them out early,” Cody Vai said. Vai took the last pass from Tepaea Cook-Savage after a breakout from a turnover at halfway for his try.

“We know they’re the best in the world right now… but in our circle, we trust each other and that’s how we fight on the field.”

New Zealand required the last minute to defeat Great Britain and the USA by the same score. Down 7-0 against Great Britain, Brady Rush busted clear on the left wing to tie the scores in the second half. With two minutes remaining New Zealand poached a turnover on halfway and Tepaea Cook-Savage weaved past three defenders and scampered free.

“It was a grind, aye. It was a grind. GB are a good team, they hold onto the ball for long periods, but we’ve just got to stay in the grind really.” Cook-Savage said.

Against the USA Ng Shiu had given New Zealand the lead before the USA drew level. With a minute left Xavier Tito-Harris hit a pass from Cook-Savage from a scrum move like a freight train and burst clear.

New Zealand rallied from 12-7 down to eliminate Fiji in the quarters. Regan Ware (122 SVNS tries) had brushed off two defenders to open the scoring. Ware was the top tackler in group play.

When Joji Nasova stood up Moses Leo and scored his first SVNS try midway through the second half New Zealand appeared to be in trouble. However, a Xavier Tito-Harris try in the corner from a concerted build-up leveled the scores. Fiji was less accurate when it counted, and the winning try was scored with the last play by Ng Shiu. New Zealand developed an overlap and Andrew Knewstubb fired a perfect 30-metre pass.

Ng Shiu has scored 43 tries. “We knew Fiji bring a lot of energy we had to match them and be better than them.”

Ng Shiu is back for his 39th tournament, a first since suffering an ACL injury in 2022.  Ng Shiu told allblacks.com.

"It's been a been a hell of a journey and reflecting back, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Normal ACLs come back in nine to 12 months, and I was getting close to that 16-month period. There have been a few setbacks.

“I had to make sure that my bodyweight wasn't going through the roof. Otherwise, it would have been a struggle getting back into shape. I had to try and discipline myself.

“I feel for everyone that does do long term injuries whether it's shoulder or knee, I'm just so lucky and grateful to have a massive support crew around me when I had tough times. So grateful just reflecting on it.”

That winning try feeling 😍#HSBCSVNS | #HSBCSVNSHKG | @nz_sevens https://t.co/28qMEwQyVl pic.twitter.com/ra4Y4J0jjZ

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) April 6, 2024

Black Ferns Sevens

The Black Ferns Sevens opened Pool A with routine victories over Great Britain (24-5) and Brazil (33-5). In their opening fixture, New Zealand held Great Britain scoreless in the opening half while running in four tries of their own to Michaela Blyde (2), Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

They followed that performance with a 33-7 victory against Brazil to secure their place in the knockout stages. This time it was Shiray Kaka who dotted down twice with Blyde, Jorja Miller, and Risi Pouri-Lane also scoring tries. 

The Black Ferns Sevens led until the last play against France. Kaka was in top form setting up tries for Blyde who sprinted 80 meters and Stacey Waaka 60 meters. France kept in touch with tries from New Zealand defensive lapses. Ahead 21-19 with 20 seconds remaining New Zealand captain Pouri-Lane fumbled the greasy ball five meters out from the try line. Seraphine Okemba powered over from close range for her second try and the winning blow. Okemba has scored 75 SVNS tries, and the tall, athletic, and powerful forward is the heart of everything good the French do.

New Zealand have won 26 consecutive matches against Canada and continued that streak with a comfortable 26-5 victory in the quarter-final. Canada is 32-20 in Cup quarters. New Zealand put the contest out of reach in the first half by leading 21-0. Kaka scored two tries, each over 40 meters while Miller poached a turnover from close range. Mahina Paul came off the reserves bench and scored an 80-metre runaway with two minutes remaining.

Men's Semifinals, Sunday:

5:40pm NZT: Ireland v France

6:06pm NZT: New Zealand v Australia

Black Ferns Sevens, Sunday:

4:54pm NZT: USA v France

5:17pm NZT: New Zealand v Australia

Here’s how the women’s semifinals look 🤩

Who will make it to the final? 👀#HSBCSVNS | #HSBCSVNSHKG pic.twitter.com/CgzXm4AQ03

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) April 6, 2024

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