x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Gulf go out with heads held high

The Arabian Gulf briefly harboured hopes of causing the biggest upset in the history of World Cup Sevens when they nearly stole the lead against the mighty New Zealand.

DUBAI // The Arabian Gulf briefly harboured hopes of causing the biggest upset in the history of World Cup Sevens today, when they nearly stole the lead against the mighty New Zealand. The local heroes pulled level with the eight-time IRB World Series winners via a Stuart Gibb try, and were camped on the New Zealand line with the scores level in the lead-up to the break. Marcus Smith then fashioned a chance for himself with a bold chip and chase, which caused havoc after hitting a New Zealand post. However, the Dubai Exiles player then knocked-on in the process of grounding the ball, and the chance was gone. Their problems were then exacerbated when Ben Souness broke from his own line to give the New Zealanders the lead after the half-time hooter had sounded. There was no way back for the home side, and they eventually succumbed 41-5. Their coach, Mike Lunjevich, said: "It is all about taking your opportunities. You only get one or two opportunities against New Zealand. "At least we took one, which is an improvement on [the Gulf's opening day loss to Tonga]. We needed to take our second and third. "The score ballooned out at the end. New Zealand were going for points differential, they had targeted us as the chance to really put some points on, which you could tell by their quick kick-offs and the fact they weren't trying to conserve energy."

pradley@thenational.ae