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New Zealand retain World Cup Sevens crown

Members of New Zealand’s team celebrate with their medals and trophy after defeating England, 33-12, in the Rugby Sevens World Cup Final, at the AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, on July 22, 2018 © AFP / Mark RALSTON

SAN FRANCISCO, United States, Jul 23 New Zealand became the first team in history to win back-to-back World Cup Sevens crowns Sunday, completing a clean sweep of titles with a 33-12 defeat of England in the final at AT&T Park.

The New Zealanders — who beat England to win the last tournament in 2013 in Moscow — once again proved too strong for the English, outscoring their opponents by five tries to two.

The victory completed a golden weekend in San Francisco for New Zealand after their women successfully defended their own sevens title on Saturday.

New Zealand’s men and women’s teams now hold world titles in both seven-a-side and 15-a-side versions of the game.

New Zealand co-captain Scott Curry, who missed the 2013 victory breaking his hand shortly before the tournament, was ecstatic following the win.

New Zealand play England in the Final of the Rugby Sevens World Cup, at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, on July 22, 2018 © AFP / Mark RALSTON

“It was real disappointing for me last time, so to come to San Francisco and play the way we did, I’m just really proud,” Curry said.

Curry said the New Zealand men had taken inspiration from the women’s victory 24 hours earlier.

“We were really proud of the girls. It’s awesome to emulate what they did and go back-to-back for the first time ever,” he said. “It’s good to go home with two World Cups.”

The New Zealanders, who had stunned Olympic champions Fiji to reach the final, took the lead in the opening minute, when Sione Molia burst through weak English tackling to score under the posts.

Molia then grabbed a second try moments later, burrowing over from close range to cap a dominant start.

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England hit back on the stroke of half-time when Mike Ellery found space inside the 22 from Dan Norton’s pass for a converted score which made it 14-7 at the break.

New Zealand were soon threatening again after the restart and Joe Ravouvou took them into a 19-7 lead when he easily beat Norton on the outside for a try in the corner.

Ruaridh McConnochie gave England hope of a fightback after dotting down in the corner following Harry Glover’s break.

But New Zealand upped the tempo and finished off with two more tries from Akuila Rokolisoa and Traell Joass to secure New Zealand’s third outright victory in the tournament.

– ‘Pretty gutted’ –

The New Zealanders had earlier reached the final after a clinical 22-17 defeat of Olympic champions Fiji in the semi-finals.

Trael Mikkelson of New Zealand runs to score a try before against England in the Final of the Rugby Sevens World Cup, at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, on July 22, 2018 © AFP / Mark RALSTON

England meanwhile had reached the final after a surprisingly one-sided 29-7 win over South Africa in the last four.

England coach Simon Amor admitted however his side had been unable to reproduce their best form in the final.

“Of course to be in a World Cup final you want to lift it, you want to be winning it,” Amor said.

“Unfortunately we didn’t play our best in the final game, we got some errors just dropped in at critical moments, but overall I loved the way we still stuck in and played some great rugby.”

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England captain Tom Mitchell said defeat in the final was bittersweet.

“Right now I am pretty sore, and pretty gutted,’ he said.

“We came here expecting to be amongst it and really wanting to be World Champions – that is the stuff you dream about. We were there in the final after a lot of ups and downs this season.

“I am super proud to get to that point, but it means it hurts more as we worked so hard to get there.”

New Zealand’s win brought the curtain down on a successful first ever Rugby World Cup event on US soil, with more than 102,000 spectators attending the three days of the event.

Elsewhere Sunday, Samoa’s campaign ended in disgrace with player Gordon Langkilde thrown out of the tournament for his part in a tunnel bust-up following Saturday’s defeat to Wales.

Wales player Tom Williams suffered a tournament-ending injury in the attack which Welsh players described as “unprovoked.”

World Rugby said in a statement they were investigating the incident.

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