Mon, Dec 11, 2006 - Page 18 News List

New Zealand deny South Africa, claim George sevens title

AFP , GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA

New Zealand pounced on numerous errors by South Africa to take the George leg of the IRB World Sevens series, downing the hosts 24-17 in the final on Saturday.

It was a reversal of last weekend's final -- when South Africa got the better of the All Blacks in Dubai -- and represented sweet revenge for Gordon Tietjens' side.

Once again South Africa failed to win their home competition after cruising through to the final by winning all their other games. They qualified by downing England 10-7, while New Zealand beat Fiji 29-12 in the semi-finals.

It was far from a classic final encounter between the two best teams in the competition, with handling errors and poor tackling scuppering the chances of the hosts.

None of the home team's strike runners -- such as Kabamba Floors, Stefan Basson, Philip Burger or Danwel Demas -- were allowed space or time to put any pressure on their opponents, while New Zealand enjoyed a majority of possession and won the battle at the breakdowns.

Although a second half try by Schalk van der Merwe narrowed the gap and gave the big home crowd a glimmer of hope of back-to-back wins, New Zealand held on for the victory and their first title of the new season.

Portugal were the surprise winners of the Plate competition when they defeated Zimbabwe 14-12 in a close final, while Australia got the better of Kenya 41-7 in the Bowl final.

Wales, who held England to a 14-all draw on day one of the competition, took the Plate competition after defeating the surprise package of the tournament, Tunisia, 26-5 in the final.

There were again a number of upsets on the final day, with Kenya's 19-17 win over Argentina the most significant.

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