Back-to-back double gold for New Zealand sevens teams
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Hamilton (New Zealand) (AFP)
New Zealand captured both the men's and women's titles in the Hamilton round of the World Sevens Series on Sunday, repeating their double success at the previous tournament in Cape Town.
The men produced an emphatic 27-5 victory over France to claim their home contest for the first time in four years, while the women won their third consecutive tournament when they beat Canada 24-7.
As the men extended their lead at the top of the table, co-captain Tim Mikkelson said it was important for morale to improve their home record.
"We haven't gone that well in the last couple of years, so we owed it to our crowd and our families," he said.
"The boys were clinical and the boys that came on at the end did the job and we came away with the victory."
Scott Curry put New Zealand on the board with a try in the second minute when France dangerman Tavite Veredamu was spending early time in the sinbin.
Veredamu was no sooner back on the field when he scored the only try for France.
Regan Ware scored New Zealand's second try right on half-time when France were again down a man with captain Jonathan Laugel yellow-carded.
Ware and Curry (twice) scored again in the second half.
New Zealand reached the final without dropping a game, beating Wales, USA and Scotland in their pool and rallying from 14-5 down to beat Australia 17-14 in their semi-final.
France, like Australia, disproved the pre-tournament theory that the decision to scrap the quarter-finals, with pool winners progressing directly to the semis, meant there was no room for error.
Both reached the final four on points differential -- France finished Pool C level with Canada with two wins and a draw while Australia were in a three-way tie with Fiji and Argentina with one loss each in Pool D.
The New Zealand women, who beat Canada in the Dubai final in early December, were behind for most of the first half following a Brittany Benn try.
They drew level with a try to speedster Michaela Blyde just on half-time and then pulled away after the resumption with a second try to Blyde before Niall Williams and Stacey Fluhler scored in the closing minutes.
"This is massive," said skipper Sarah Hirini.
"Canada are amazing, but obviously we've got some speedsters."
© 2020 AFP