Men's Sydney 7s: New Zealand take Cup double

Mens - Sydney
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

New Zealand have taken out a Sydney 7s double in 2019 after the men cruised to a 21-5 Cup final win on Sunday night.

The men's win over the USA, who suffered their fourth straight Cup final defeat in as many tournaments, followed a dominant win for the New Zealand women earlier in the day.

Both sides battled injuries throughout the tournament but proved their depth to come out on top for the first time.

  KIWIS DOMINANT BUT "WE ARE GETTING CLOSER": MANENTI

The Kiwi men have now won two Sydney titles in four years while the women claimed their maiden title on Australian soil and their sixth straight World Series title, dating back to Sydney last year.

Fiji were the shock of the tournament in the men's draw, going down to New Zealand in the quarters and then being blown away by a strong starting England side in the bronze medal playoff.

To see how the women's finals panned out on day three, click here.

10pm - #28yearchallenge

It's been a massive weekend but we're just going to leave you with one last reminder of the weekend. That as much things change, they still remain the same - if you're David Campese

Campo 2019 v Campo 1991. #28YearChallenge

A post shared by rugby.com.au (@rugbycomau) on

9:45pm - New Zealand happy to take the win


The All Blacks Sevens were satisfied with their win in Sydney, reversing the result of last weekend's semi-final in Hamilton when it counted.

Kiwi star Regan Ware said there was a sense of extra pride beating the USA after going down to them in New Zealand.

The boys were unfortunate last week not to get the W in front of our home crowd and also USA got over us last week, so I was pleased to come back and be able to get the win this weekend," he said.

New Zealand were without co-captain Scott Curry coming into the tournament and his fellow skipper Tim Mikkelson went down during the Sydney weekend, leaving the Kiwis down on men but Ware said it was a challenge they embraced.

"I guess it adds a little bit more pressure. We've been working on the last six months about trying to deal with pressure in our own ways and in a way it's almost good, we almost like the pressure, it comes off as a positive for us."

9:37pm - FINAL STANDINGS

In an Olympic qualification year, only the top four are guaranteed a place in Tokyo and every point counts. Here's where the sides stand after four tournaments.

1. New Zealand - 76

2. USA - 76

3. Fiji -72

4. South Africa - 57

5. England - 55

6. Australia - 47

7. Scotland - 34

8. Spain - 32

9. Argentina - 31

10. Samoa - 30

9:15pm - CUP FINAL

New Zealand have completed a Sydney 7s double in 2019, inflicting a fourth straight World Series silver medal.

The Kiwis dominated from the outset and the Americans could never quite get back into the game.

Missing co-captain Tim Mikkelson through injury, the Kiwis proved their depth in the win which was their second Sydney title in the four years of the series.

RESULT

New Zealand 21 - USA 5

8:54pm - BRONZE MEDAL

England took the bronze medal in Sydney. Photo: Getty ImagesEngland have shocked a fatigued Fiji to take out the bronze medal in Sydney.

The English burst out to a big lead and Fiji couldn't find the scoreboard until midway through the second.

A last-gasp Jerry Tuwai try narrowed the final margin to just two points but it was too late for Fiji.

RESULT

England 19 - Fiji 17

8:40pm - Parahi wraps Sydney 7s


Hear what Aussie Sevens veteran Jesse Parahi said to media after the Aussie 7s' fifth-place playoff loss to South Africa.

8:28pm - FIFTH PLACE 

It was a bruising battle in the fifth place playoff. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyThe Aussie men have finished sixth in Sydney after a last-gasp South Africa try relegated them to a 12-10 defeat.

In an absolutely brutal game of Sevens, neither side was willing to cede even a millimeter but both were perfectly happy to throw their weight around.

The Aussies came out with clear determination and when Henry Hutchison won a penalty, they took little time making metres.

Unfortunately for the Aussies, the South Africans returned the favour when John Porch came off his feet in a ruck with the only difference being that they finished the score.

A Nick Malouf hit stopped a South African attacking charge in its tracks and though it took time, the Aussies eventually notched one back through John Porch.

It was a slow start to the second half for both teams but a Jesse Parahi turnover put the Aussies on the attack.

Lachie Anderson was dragged down just short of the line with no support, handing South Africa back possession, but the dogged Aussies won their own turnover on the next phase.

Michael Wells made his impact felt in the breakdown and his physicality set up another chance for the Aussies, with Nick Malouf powering over with just four minutes to go give the Aussies the lead for the first time.

South Africa won possession and had the last say in attack, testing the Aussie defence and Johannes Pretorius found the space on the left edge to score the match winner.

Australia have now finished sixth in three consecutive tournaments.

8:02pm - Skelton making waves

Jeral Skelton has some strong bloodlines. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWhile the Australian men won't be defending their title in Sydney on Sunday night, they have showcased an absolute gem in the form of teenager Jeral Skelton.

Skelton's double propelled them into the fifth place playoff and the 19-year-old has more where that came from.

The cousin of both Will Skelton and Peter Betham, Jeral is one to watch.

RUGBY.com.au spoke to Skelton after the Aussies' win over France in the fifth-place semis.

7:57pm - CHALLENGE TROPHY

Argentina have taken out the Challenge trophy at the Sydney 7s, some consolation after missing out on the Cup draw on points difference.

The Argentinians were tested by the Japanese but ultimately were too good for their Asian counterparts.

RESULT

Argentina 10 - Japan 7

7:30pm - 13th Place

Samoa finished their tournament on a high with a 25-5 win over Tonga in their fiery playoff.

RESULT

Samoa 25 - Tonga 5

4:20pm - CUP SEMI-FINALS

New Zealand and the USA will face off for the Sydney 7s title on Sunday night after winning their final four match-ups.

Fiji's Sydney 7s drought will continue in 2019 after New Zealand bested the World Series leaders in their Cup semi-final.

A yellow and a red card for the Fijians left them fighting an uphill battle against the Kiwis, who also lost a man in the final two minutes of the match.

Fiji got one try back late but the Kiwis answered immediately to seal a 36-14 win over the Pacific Islanders.


England and the USA are set to face off in the other semi-final and RUGBY.com.au caught up with Dan Norton ahead of their semi, to chat about the weekend the English are having.

RESULTS

Fiji 14 - New Zealand 36

England 7 - USA 14

4:30pm - Day three a sell out

Spotless Stadium. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleySome really good news for the Sydney 7s organisers on Sunday. Day three was officially declared a sell-out, with approximately 22,500 tickets sold.

With a shift to Spotless Stadium and the mixed performance of the Aussie teams, expectations were not outrageously high for the tournament but all three days have delivered bigger crowds than initially anticipated.

3:58pm - FIFTH PLACE


A Jeral Skelton double has helped Australia to a 17-14 win over France and handed them a spot in the fifth-place final in Sydney.

France were on the attack early but the Aussies forced a penalty and took possession.

Australia had a handful of chances to attack and finally converted in the fourth minute, with Simon Kennewell drawing two defenders and putting Henry Hutchison over in the corner.

France replied in the seventh minute to take the lead just shy of half-time and though the Aussies had one last chance to attack, they were forced into touch without making much ground.

Australia began to unravel in the second half, with loose carries allowing France to dislodge the ball in tackles and force turnovers.

Misjudged passes went to ground for the Aussies and they were on the back foot as the French began to gain momentum.

Skelton gave the Aussies some optimism with a runaway try against the run of play, making the equation two points with less than two minutes left.

The teenager was over once again with 45 seconds to go, powering through the French defence to snatch a win at the death.

2:56pm - CHALLENGE TROPHY

Japan and Argentina will play off for the Challenge Trophy in Sydney after two tight wins in their semi-finals, keeping their hopes of some prize alive.

Tonga and Samoa will face off in the 13th place playoff after winning their semi-finals this afternoon.

RESULTS

Challenge Trophy semi-finals

Japan 19 - Wales 17

Argentina 24 - Canada 19

13th place playoff

Tonga 20 - Kenya 17

Samoa 26 - Scotland 12

2:03pm - Campo's still got it

David Campese and Drew Mitchell ran out for the Classics on Sunday. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyDavid Campese more than made it through his Classic Wallabies debut on Sunday afternoon - the Wallabies legend notched a try in the Classic Wallabies' 31-10 win over the Pacific Rugby Legends.

The 56-year-old showed off his trademark goose step on the way to his own score and conversion at Spotless Stadium.

Campese was among a host of familiar names in he Classic Wallabies going up against Radike Samo and the Pacific Rugby Legends.


1:58pm - Semi-final schedule

The men's Cup quarter-finals have been decided here in Sydney and here are the semi match-ups.

Cup Semi-finals

4:16pm - Fiji vs New Zealand

4:38pm - England vs USA

Fifth place semi-finals

3:32pm - Australia vs France

3:54pm - South Africa vs Spain

1:40pm - No excuses for Aussie men: Walsh

Tim Walsh played down the impact of injuries to his two playmakers in Australia’s narrow loss to Fiji, and instead pointed to mistakes and missed opportunities for the quarter-final defeat.

The Australians lost the chance to defend their 2018 Sydney Sevens title when they pushed Fiji strongly, and led 17-10, but ultimately gave up two tries in the last three minutes to concede defeat.

Walsh’s side wasn’t helped by the fact Maurice Longbottom went off in the first half with a hamstring injury, and his rookie replacement Josh Coward came off almost instantly with an ankle injury.

It forced a major re-shuffle but Walsh didn’t use the injuries as an excuse for the loss.

“Not really,” Walsh said.

Jeral Skelton was impressive for the Aussies in a tough quarter-final loss. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“We are a squad of 12, or 13, so those boys came on and gave it everything. It didn’t have a reflection on the result.

“I thought we did enough to win the game, we just didn’t take those chances and that’s what it comes down to. Whenever you get the opportunity, and you don’t get many, that you have to take them.”

Australia needed to dictate terms, and maintain possession, to beat the Fijians and they did the job well for almost all the game.

But showing why they’re kings of world sevens – in front of a see of blue flags – the Fijians struck on almost every turnover opportunity.

“They can score from anywhere on the field. They’re one of the teams you certainly don’t want to be handing possession over to. You know you are going to be working hard. They’re going to make breaks and make offloads, and they’ll do it in a blink of an eye,” Walsh said.

“Basically I think we did nearly everything right, used the squad and had a really good impact. But we didn’t take our opportunities and made a crucial error.

“Bitterly disappointed but they put in a really good fight there. We will take some lessons from that.

“We have to dust ourselves off and make sure we finish this round off on a high and take every possible point.

With Olympic qualifying points crucial, Australia are now determined to finish fifth and will play France in the fifth-place semi-final at 3.32pm AEDT.

“It is the beauty of the season. Everyone is fighting for every single point,” Walsh said.

Longbottom and Coward will both be unavailable for the clash, while Ben O'Donnell will also be missing after suffering a concussion on day one.

1:20pm - Classics teams named

It's nearly time for one of the highlights of the Sydney 7s weekend - the Classic Wallabies vs the Pacific Island Legends. The teams are in and there are some big names set to trot out for both sides at 1:44pm.

Classic Wallabies

Laurie Weeks, Morgan Turinui, Brendan Williams, Adam Freier, Dean Mumm, Steve Kefu, Patrick Phibbs, Jeremy Paul, Pete Playford, David Campese, Drew Mitchell, Mark Gerrard

Pacific Island Legends

Radike Samo, Seilala Mapusua, Eddie Aholelei, Junior Poluleuligaga, Onehunga Mata’uiai, Pierre Hola, Filipo Levi, Brian Sefanaia, Marion Solofuti, Mosese Raulini, Tyrone Smith, Lepani Mabuliwaqa

12:42pm - CUP QUARTER-FINALS


Australia's Sydney 7s title defence is over after their courageous quarter-final effort fell just five points short of a rampaging Fiji.

Injuries to Maurice Longbottom and Josh Coward compounded their already depleted outfit, with star Ben O'Donnell ruled out on day two, and Fiji found a way to score with almost every chance they had in a 22-17 win.

The Aussies peppered the Fiji defence in the opening stages but couldn't find a gap to slip through until a chain of quick passes finally opened up a chance for Maurice Longbottom.

Longbottom went  off immediately after with what appeared to be a hamstring issue and rookie Coward followed him soon after with a potential ankle injury.

In between those two casualties, Fiji snuck through for their opener to level the scores.

Australia kept fighting, threatening in attack and throwing their bodies on the line in defence but eventually the Fijians added to their score, with Mesulame Kunavula crossing right on the stroke of half-time.

Kunavula was sent for a spell in the second half after throwing the ball away as the sides reset for a penalty and Jeral Skelton immediately capitalised with a corner score to even it up.

A Brandon Quinn-Lewis Holland one-two opened up a space on the edge for Jesse Parahi to score and give Australia the lead.

It lasted all of roughly 15 seconds, though, with Fiji scoring off a quick tap after a Nick Malouf high tackle.

Fiji were in again at their next opportunity with Alosio Naduva stretching out over the line to score after a dogged defensive effort from Australia.

Time was against the Aussies and Fiji wasted none of it on the final restart to kick into touch and secure their semi-final spot.

Australia will now play in the fifth-place semi-final against France in their fifth-placed semi-final.

RESULTS

Fiji 22 - Australia 17

New Zealand 28 - France 5

South Africa 5 - England 26

USA 38 - Spain 10

11:10am - CHALLENGE TROPHY

Argentina will still have a shot at a trophy, beating Samoa in their Challenge quarter-final after a narrow exit from the Cup competition.

The Pumas 7s will be joined by Japan, Wales and Canada in the final four of the Challenge draw. 

RESULTS

Japan 31 - Tonga 19

Wales 19 - Kenya 14

Argentina 36 - Samoa 12

Canada 35 - Scotland 21

9:50am - A day at the Sydney 7s 

How is the Sydney 7s like a wedding reception and what do the players eat between matches? RUGBY.com.au's Sam Figg takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour of the biggest rugby party of the year.


9:45am - Australia's miracle on grass at Spotless


The Aussies had fluctuating fortunes on day two of the Sydney 7s but it was this effort from Nick Malouf that secured them a spot in the knockouts after the full-time siren.

Needing to win by six points to qualify, Malouf's score made it an eight-point margin over the Blitzboks and sent a shot of excitement through the crowd.

9:45am - Campo to suit up for Classics

The annual Classics match has become a cornerstone of the Sydney 7s weekend and today's clash is rumoured to have a very special guest.

Wallabies legend David Campese is set to pull on the jersey for the Aussies and go up against the Pacific Classics.

Tickets are on track for a possible sellout today, so if you want to see the likes of Campo, Lote Tuqiri, Justin Harrison and former Wallabies hooker Adam Freier in action, get down to Spotless Stadium.

9:30am - All the latest


Before the on-field action kicks off, here's a recap of some of the stories you might've missed yesterday.

  GREEN GOES BANG TO SHOW SHE'S FAST AND FURIOUS

  SYDNEY 7S SET TO SHIFT IN 2020

a