Teenager Rieko Ioane scored a dramatic last-gasp try to give New Zealand a 27-24 win over Australia in a thrilling final yesterday and dash hopes of a home triumph in the inaugural Sydney Sevens.
With time having already expired, the 18-year-old silenced the 37,000 crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium by securing a hat-trick to give the All Blacks back-to-back titles after their Wellington triumph on home soil last weekend.
Ioane was named player of the tournament for his seven tries but his 20-year-old brother Akira, who set up Rieko’s first try with a trademark burst down the sideline, won the Man of the Match award after another tackle-busting performance.
Australia, under new coach Andy Friend but without marquee Wallabies signing Quade Cooper, never trailed in the final until Ioane crossed at the death and will take confidence from their performance over the weekend.
“They had us on the ropes in the first half,” said New Zealand skipper Tim Mikkelson.
“We know from last week what kind of lift you get from your home crowd. We just needed the ball, we’re a difficult team to beat when we have the ball.”
Fiji, beaten 14-12 in the semi-finals by the All Blacks, will depart for the next round in Las Vegas top of the series standings on points difference after their victory over pacesetters South Africa in the third-place playoff.
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