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South Africa stun Kiwis to take Las Vegas title

Published: 9:24AM Monday February 11, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

New Zealand were blown off the park in the first half of the Las Vegas sevens final as South Africa romped to a 40-21 win today.

A dropped ball from the kick-off allowed South Africa to go straight on the attack. Several phases took them within five metres of the New Zealand line before the pressure eventually told, Warren Whiteley diving over from a ruck to score beside the sticks after 50 seconds, Branco du Preez's conversion giving them the full compliment of points.

New Zealand eventually got their hands on the ball and worked their way inside the South African half only to lose possession to the weight of numbers at a ruck, with play quickly moving back down inside the Kiwis 22.

New Zealand remained focussed on defence but felt the ire of the referees whistle to see South Africa maintain territory and  possession. A straight running Chris Dry hit the gap to run around under the bar for South Africa's second score, du Preez notching another kick for a 14-0 lead after five minutes.

Elusive running from New Zealand's Luke Masirewa down the left-flank preceeded a shift out to the right, where Ben Lam busted the line, but the men in black were unable to engineer any points.

The Kiwis then found themselves behind by another try, Dry waltzing through another hole out wide to again score in prime position, du Preez's third two-pointer giving South Africa an emphatic 21-0 lead.

The Kiwis continued to battle the referees whistle and their own mistakes, handing the ball to South Africa no less than eight times in nine minutes, in a telling statistic that underlined the flow of play.

With halftime less than a minute away, the Boks were in again, du Preez notching the fourth try on the halftime bell to ultimately extend their lead by another seven points.

The story was the same early in the second term, the inspirational du Preez touching down a loose ball, and banging over his fourth kick to make the scoreline grim reading for Kiwi fans.

New Zealand eventually crossed their first try after Lam bumped off a would-be-tackler to run 50-metres for the try, Rocky Khan's swift conversion giving them seven points and the faintest hope of an unlikely comeback.

However, South Africa quickly restored their formidable lead with their next taste of possession, Stephan Dippenaar fending away from Warwick Lahmert, and Khan's covering tackle, to score next to the corner flag.

With the win all but out of reach, All Blacks Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens rang the changes, injecting Gillies Kaka into the fray and asking his youthful lineup to respond to the monumental challenge of halting South Africa's charge.

They did not give up, a sharp looking run-around move sent Mikkelson on a jinking run, sidestepping a pair of defenders and the referee, on this way to the line for their second converted try.

Kaka then showed his undoubted potential, when from a standing start, he shimmied through a gap and brushed off a tackle to score in the left corner.

Khan was again on target with his third kick, the 40-21 scoreline ensuring New Zealand maintained their dignity as they stared defeat in the face.

New Zealand's late rally ended there however, while Lam finished the match in the sin-bin after a late tackle felled South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe.

Earlier today, Australia romped to a 41-0 win in the Shield final, France edged out Argentinal 17-12 for the Bowl, Canada enjoyed a 22-5 win over Scotland to take the Plate, while Samoa took a thrilling 36-31 extra-time win over Fiji.

All Blacks Sevens 21 (Ben Lam, Tim Mikkelson, Gillies Kaka tries; Khan 3 cons)

South Africa 40 (Warren Whiteley, Chris Dry 2, Branco du Preez 2, Stephan Dippenaar tries; du Preez 5 cons)