All Blacks Sevens advance to Quarter Finals of World Cup
The All Blacks Sevens fought off a spirited challenge from USA in their final pool match of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 to advance to Sunday’s Quarter Finals.
The USA victory following wins over Georgia and Canada earlier on Friday ensured New Zealand finished top of Pool D. They now face Wales in the Quarter Final at 1.22pm (9.22 NZ time).
But it was the game against the USA which proved the stiffest test of the three. New Zealand slumped to a 5-19 deficit after opening the scoring, but turned that back in the second half racing in three unanswered tries to win 26-19 – settling the nerves of the few dozen Kiwi supporters who have made the long journey to Moscow.
“We made a few mistakes and they pounced on them, and they made us pay for it,” said Tim Mikkelson. “They are a good team and we showed a lot of fight to come back.”
Earlier in the day the team beat Georgia 26-7.
Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said after the USA match the team needed to eliminate mistakes, particularly around kick-off if it was to get its hands on the Melrose Cup on Sunday for the first time since 2001.
“It’s what it is all about. We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball. When you look to attack when you have been defending for so long, you haven’t got those energy levels so it’s tough work. We need more ball to play with, conditions are hard enough as it is now let alone trying to play the game without the ball.
“The guys are hurting. We like to pride ourselves on good performances and we didn’t put in one of those, it’s about tomorrow now, we are still in the championship and there was a time in that game when we might not have been in the championship.”
The team also lost Sam Dickson to a knee injury during the match. The extent of that injury remains to be determined, but Tietjens said he had good depth on the bench if the lofty young Canterbury forward needed to be replaced.
The players left the giant Luzhniki Stadium late afternoon with plenty to focus on.
“We knew World Cup was going to be tough and every team would get up,” said Mikkelson. “We just need to lift that little bit extra on Sunday to be in with a chance.”
All Blacks Sevens 26 (Cama, Raikabula, Baker, Stowers tries, Cama, Baker, Stowers cons)
Georgia 7 (Kvirikashvili try, con)
All Blacks Sevens 26 (Stowers, Mikkelson, Raikuna, penalty try, Kaka cons)
USA 19 (Edwards, Hawkins (2), Siniula cons)
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