Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 24 News List

Late Vito try secures Kiwi victory in final of Wellington sevens


New Zealand continue to dominate the world rugby sevens circuit with a late try by rising star Victor Vito securing a 22-17 win over Samoa in the final of the third leg yesterday.

The 20-year-old Vito, who is fast drawing comparisons with Jonah Lomu in his prime because of his size, speed and skill, scored six tries in the tournament but none so important as his match winner, his second touchdown in the final.

Samoa had led 17-12 midway through the second half before a Stephen Yates try leveled the score.

And just when it looked as though the match would go into extra time, the imposing Vito burst through two defenders for the winner.

"It doesn't get any better than that," New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. "It was the last move of the game and that's what practice is all about. You put these moves together and it came off brilliantly. And Victor Vito -- what an outstanding performance for such a young guy."

Vito's first try in the final also underscored his talent as he took the ball from a standing start and mounted a 60m run to the line, swatting aside four would-be tacklers on the way.

The win kept the defending world champions unbeaten in the 2007-2008 series after winning the first two rounds in Dubai and South Africa and put them well on the road toward an eighth world crown in the nine-year-old competition.

But they did not have it all their own way against a rugged Samoan side.

After comprehensively dominating the build up matches toward the final, New Zealand found this match against Samoa a much tougher ordeal than when they beat them 19-7 in pool play on Friday.

Samoa opened the scoring in the first minute of the final with a runaway try for Mikaela Pesamino, before New Zealand replied with tries by Vito and Zar Lawrence to lead 12-7 at halftime.

In the second half, Samoa took control again with a try by Alatasi Tupou and a drop goal from Lolo Lui, before Yates' leveller and then the Vito decider.

The series now heads to San Diego next weekend.

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