After three days of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series action in Cape Town, Samoa’s men and New Zealand’s women ended the event – and 2022 – in style.
Samoa’s men put in a brilliant performance to defeat New Zealand 12-7 in a closely fought Cup final to claim their first Series title since Paris in 2016.
HSBC Player of the Final Vaa Apelu Maliko said: “We’d like to thank our family, friends and all the supporters back home for helping us get through this event, this win is for them.”
Samoa and South Africa on 47 points now lead the standings after three events heading into 2023, USA and New Zealand next on 44 points.
Tyla Nathan-Wong was the catalyst for New Zealand as they won the women’s event.
Australia had beaten them in the Dubai Cup final the week before, but in this week’s final New Zealand dominated from early on and came out on top 31-14.
This was New Zealand’s 28th title on the circuit and head coach Cory Sweeney said: “It is awesome, it is hard to put into words.
“This group stood up and to do what they did in a final was awesome.
“I am really proud of everyone in the group, this is a special day.”
Nathan-Wong was the HSBC Player of the Final and she added: “It was an epic performance by the team, it was a bit of a grind this week, but in the final the players found their self-belief and came out and delivered.”
Australia and New Zealand now lead the standings on 38 points after two events heading into 2023, USA are third on 32 points.
Samoa edge hard in Men’s cup final
By the time the men’s Cup final was played, the rain really was coming down heavily, so credit to both Samoa and New Zealand’s players for putting on a show.
The Samoans took a slender 5-0 lead into the second half thanks to an unconverted try by Faafoi Falaniko after six minutes.
Two minutes into the second half Brady Rush found some space and scored for New Zealand and when Tepaea Savage converted they were 7-5 up.
Samoa were not done though and a try from Vaa Apelu Maliko converted by Falaniko got them over the line 12-7.
New Zealand dominate in Women’s Cup Final
New Zealand came out of the blocks firing and went 7-0 up early on in the women’s Cup final with the rain falling.
Shiray Kaka was the try scorer with Tyla Nathan-Wong converting and things got better for them when the latter scored a try and added the extras again to make it 14-0.
When Nathan Wong added another try and a conversion before the break it was 21-0 with seven minutes remaining.
Michaela Blyde and Kelly Brazier scored further tries for New Zealand with Madison Ashby and Demi Hayes getting consolations for Australia.
The final score was 31-14.
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series takes a festive break before returning in Hamilton, New Zealand on 21-22 January and Sydney, Australia on 27-29 January as the race of Series glory and Paris 2024 Olympic qualification continues.
The men’s pools for Hamilton see Series leaders Samoa in Pool A together with Pacific Island neighbours Fiji as well as France and Kenya. New Zealand are in Pool B with Great Britain, Australia and invitation team Tonga. Pool C includes the USA, Uruguay, Ireland and Japan. South Africa, winners in Dubai last weekend, are in Pool D with Argentina, Spain and Canada.
The women’s pools see Olympic Champions New Zealand drawn in Pool A along side Great Britain, Fiji and invitation team Papua New Guinea. Australia are in Pool B with France, Canada and Japan. The USA will be aiming for their third straight podium finish and are in Pool C with Ireland, Brazil and Spain.