New Zealand win inaugural Vancouver Sevens title after upsetting South Africa in final

New Zealand picked up their third Sevens title this season with a 19-14 win in the Vancouver Sevens final against South Africa

New Zealand win inaugural Vancouver Sevens title after upsetting South Africa in final
New Zealand celebrate winning the Vancouver Sevens (image via: WorldRugby)

New Zealand became the first ever winners of the Vancouver Sevens on Sunday evening, after picking up a surprise victory over favourites South Africa in the final. 

After a disappointing showing in Las Vegas last weekend, Sir Gordon Teitjens' side used an abrasive tactic in the Vancouver final, keeping it as tight as they could and it paid off with a 19-14 triumph at BC Place Stadium

The win gave New Zealand their third title of the season, following victories earlier this year in Wellington and Sydney, and it leaves them third in the overall season standings, one point behind the South Africans, and a further point behind leaders Fiji

Vegas finalists knocked out in dramatic semis

Last week, it was Fiji and Australia who contested the final in Las Vegas, yet this week they were both knocked out in high-class semi-finals. 

Fiji's conquerors were South Africa, who scored two late tries to win 31-19 after the sides had gone back-and-forth at eachother for much of the game. 

In the second semi, Sione Molia inspired the New Zealanders to a 28-19 victory over their rivals Australia. His two tries late on secured their spot in the final, after Tim Mikkelson and Gillies Kaka had each crossed for five-pointers earlier in the match. 

In the third-placed playoff, Australia came from behind to topple Fiji 19-12. Samoa were victorious in the Plate final, beating the USA 31-19 behind the excellence of Phoenix Hunapo, while Russia beat Portugal 17-10 to win the Shield. 

Canadian players celebrate beating France in the Bowl final (image via: vancouversun)

Without doubt though, the biggest cheer of the weekend came in the Bowl final, when Canadian captain John Moonlight scored a try in the the final seconds to defeat France 19-17. The capacity crowd made for an excellent atmsospher over the two days, and the city's position as a Sevens host looks pretty solid going forward following rave reviews. 

Kiwis strangle Blitzbokke to claim third title of 2016

Wins in Wellington and Sydney earlier this year were built on the back of 15-a-side players joining the Kiwi Sevens setup as they looked to gain qualification for the Rio Olympic squad. 

The likes of Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane and brother Reiko Ioane are now back with their Super Rugby provinces,while Sonny Bill Williams is out injured. The squad is now completely, and it has taken time for the newbies in the squad to gel. 

After underwhelming in Vegas, suffering a quarter-final defeat to South Africa, as well as a 22-0 humbling by Kenya in their pool game, this victory in Vancouver came as a big surprise. 

The turnaround in just seven days by the same set of players was mightily impressive, and proves that New Zealand will still be a tough nut to crack for the remainder of the season. 

Sevens stalwarts such as DJ Forbes, Kaka, Mikkelson and Sherwin Stowers have been joined in the squad by exciting youngsters, including Sam Dickson, Lewis Ormond and Molia who have bought a lot of speed to the side. 

Dickson in particular was incredible in the final, grabbing a number of 50/50 high balls which helped the Kiwis retain possession and stifle the attack-minded South Africans. 

Forbes and Liam Messam were very agressive up front, putting pressure on at every ruck and scrum, forcing uncharacteristic mistakes from their fancied opponents. 

The points in the final, came via tries from Dickson, Ormond and the hard-working Kurt Baker, who celebrated with his traditional double thumbs up to the crowd. 

Kurt Baker celebrates his try in the final (image via: WorldRugby)

South Africa grabbed a late consolation through the electric Seabelo Senatla, but they were never really in the contest, and New Zealand held on for the deserved victory. 

The teams now have four weeks off to recouperate after a tough fortnight, before heading to Hong Kong for the seventh leg of the series, with the Singapore leg taking place a week later.