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New Zealand beats England to win Wellington Sevens

February 7, 2015

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Schoolboy Rieko Ioane scored two tries as New Zealand beat England 27-21 in Saturday’s Rugby Sevens final, taking out the home round of the World Series for the fourth time in five years.

New Zealand outscored England five tries to three to post their first tournament win in four World Series rounds this season and to rise to second place behind South Africa on the Series standings. South Africa beat Scotland in the third-place playoff to retain the Series lead.

New Zealand had beaten England 24-5 in pool play and their win in the final was equally emphatic.

Dylan Collier and Gillies Kaka scored tries that gave New Zealand an early 10-0 lead.

England replied with a try to Marcus Watson that cut the lead to 10-7 when New Zealand was reduced to six men by the sin-binning of Joe Webber.

Ioane’s fifth try of the tournament gave the hosts a 15-7 lead at halftime and they put the match beyond England’s grasp with tries to Scott Curry and Ioane early in the second half.

England captain Tom Mitchell and veteran John Brake scored late tries for England to make the scoreline respectable.

England just scraped into the final, needing extra time to beat Fiji 26-21 in the quarterfinal, then rallying from 19-0 down to beat Scotland 24-19 in the semifinals with a winning try after the hooter.

New Zealand, which lost captain D.J. Forbes to injury on the opening day after the earlier loss of its best player, Tim Mikkelson, was unbeaten in pool play.

It then beat Australia 26-7 in the quarterfinals and South Africa 17-7 in the semifinals, clinching that win with a late try to Ioane who scored six tries at the tournament.

“It’s massive. We haven’t won a World Series tournament yet this year and so to win one in our home town is pretty awesome,” said Curry, who took over as captain in Forbes’ absence.

“You can’t replace guys like Tim (Mikkelson) and D.J. (Forbes). That’s more than 100 tournaments of experience between them. It was just keep composed, build phases and we knew the pressure would pay off in the end.”

South Africa lost its opening match at the tournament to France but made the last eight and beat Kenya before going down to New Zealand in the semis.

The South Africans retain the overall World Series lead ahead of New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. The top four teams at the end of nine rounds qualify automatically for the Olympic Sevens tournament in Rio de Janiero next year.

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