x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Samoa take the lead in sevens world series

Samoa came from behind to beat New Zealand 24-21 and win the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday.

Samoa's Mikaele Pesamino, left, runs with the ball against New Zealand's Tim Mikkelson in the Hong Kong Sevens final.
Samoa's Mikaele Pesamino, left, runs with the ball against New Zealand's Tim Mikkelson in the Hong Kong Sevens final.

Samoa came from behind to beat New Zealand 24-21 and win the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday. The victory gave Samoa the lead in the IRB Sevens World Series with two tournaments left. Samoa's third successive title gave them 30 points to increase their season total to 124 - three ahead of New Zealand. Kurt Baker, who scored four tries in New Zealand's semi- final win over Fiji, crossed twice in the first four minutes to help the Kiwis race to a 14-0 lead.

Samoa got two tries, but missed a conversion, meaning they trailed 14-12 at the break. Then Mikaele Pesamino scored two tries, one converted by Lolo Lui, to put Samoa ahead 24-14 with a lead they would not lose. Stephen Betham, the Samoa coach, said composure was key to his team's victory and credited the win to "just keeping ourselves in the game and knowing that the game isn't over until the final whistle".

He added: "When we got those two tries [in the first half], we knew we had a chance." Gordon Tietjens, the New Zealand coach, said: "We just made too many mistakes in the end. We started particularly well, then made too many mistakes, had some real opportunities. It wasn't to be, really." Meeanwhile, Gareth Delve, the Welsh international forward, will join the Melbourne Rebels, the new Super team, from the English side Gloucester in September. "The opportunity to test myself alongside the best players in world rugby in a competition I have grown up admiring, was one I couldn't refuse," said Delve, whose new team will play in the Super tournament from February 2011.

Nick Cummins, the Western Force winger, has been banned for two weeks for a dangerous tackle in Saturday's loss to the Super 14-leading Pretoria Bulls. A disciplinary panel said of his challenge on Jacques-Louis Potgieter he had "lifted and dropped the Bulls player to the ground with no regard for his safety". Mitch Hardy, the Force general manager, said the club would appeal the ban.

@Email:akunawicz@thenational.ae