Wednesday, December 09, 2009
New Zealand got their IRB World Series Sevens campaign under way in positive fashion as they beat Samoa 24-12 in a gripping final on Saturday.
The NZ Sevens side had a disappointing series last season following injuries and loss of form. This first outing back shows that theyre once again going to be a handful over the next few months.
"I thought we might have been a bit undercooked," New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said of the decision not to enter his side into any pre-Dubai warm-up tournaments.
"But you put in the work and you reap the riches. The players have put everything into this win. What really pleased me was winning so well today in all three matches."
They beat Kenya 17-14 in a tense quarter final, then cruised past Fiji in the semi, beating them 19-0. In the final, they got off to a good start as they went 10-0 up after tries from Tomasi Cama and captain DJ Forbes.
Samoa fought back though to get a 12-10 lead after tries scored by Reupena Levasa and Mikaele Pesamino early in the second half. Manawatu youngster Kurt Baker then scored a nice try, before Cama sealed the win with his second.
"That's sevens rugby. They bounced back but we had the winning mentality," Tietjens said.
The series now heads to George in South Africa for the second leg this coming weekend. The home side, champions last season, will probably be favourites, but New Zealand will hope to carry over some of their good form.
"You've got to be out there and work really hard," Tietjens said. "Starting well is a bonus because if you start slowly it's a real struggle to get up. Consistency is about winning tournaments and also consistency of performance is about doing well.
"You're never going to win every tournament; it's not going to happen. But you've got to be a real contender when it comes to the series."