New Zealand became the first men’s team to win two tournaments in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023, beating Argentina 22-12 in the Cup final in Los Angeles.
Leroy Carter was the hero for the All Blacks Sevens on a much more dry day two, scoring five tries – including two in the showpiece match – to help his side to their second successive title.
In winning in the USA, the All Blacks Sevens avenged their defeat to Argentina in their home Cup final in Hamilton last month and solidified their position at the top of the standings.
With six of 11 2023 Series tournaments played at the end of the HSBC Los Angeles Sevens, New Zealand have amassed 107 points, 21 more than Los Pumas Sevens, who are now second.
“We’ve been working hard for a few years now,” New Zealand captain Sam Dickson said. “We made a few finals last year and now we’re finally clicking, that hard work’s paying off.”
History doesn’t repeat
Moses Leo opened the scoring in the Cup final, outpacing Marcos Moneta to score in the left corner and give the All Blacks Sevens a 5-0 lead.
That soon became 12-0 as Carter crossed for the first time, converted by Akuila Rokolisao, who had notched his 60th Series try in the 33-12 Cup semi-final win against Australia.
The All Blacks Sevens had conceded a 12-point lead in losing the Hamilton Cup final to Argentina in January, but any nerves were eased in first-half stoppage time as Carter went over again.
Los Pumas Sevens hit back with tries from Tobias Wade and Agustin Fraga to set up a tense final two minutes, but it was New Zealand who held their nerve.
Brady Rush made sure of the victory and the tournament as he produced a stunning dummy to fool the Argentine defenders and canter over.
Fiji hold on to claim bronze
Fiji had been undone by indiscipline in their 20-17 Cup semi-final defeat to Argentina, but it looked as though they were cruising to victory in the bronze final.
Anasa Qaranivalu stormed through the Australian defence to score the first try of the match within the opening minute at the Dignity Health Sports Park.
Rokoua Rasaku crossed the whitewash to double the Fijian advantage before half-time and it was 21-0 in the ninth minute when Manueli Maisamoa cut through before handing the ball off to Rauto Vakadranu to score his first Series try.
Australia had less than five minutes to mount a comeback, but they gave it their all as Maurice Longbottom, Dietrich Roache and Nathan Lawson all touched down.
Ultimately, though, Longbottom’s missed conversion from his own score – which hit the crossbar from the right touchline – proved decisive and enabled Fiji to hold on to win bronze.
“These games are crucial,” Fiji coach Ben Gollings said. “They’ve regrouped well, and it was a big performance.”
Samoa end weekend on high
Earlier, Samoa needed golden point extra-time to beat Great Britain 24-19 in the fifth-place final.
Tom Emery’s impressive conversion of Jamie Barden’s late try forced the additional period and it looked as though he might have the final say in extra-time.
He was unable to hold onto Robbie Fergusson’s pass, though, and Samoa went up the other end to score through Faafoi Falaniko.
France held off a second-half fight back from Spain to win the ninth-place play-off 26-24 after USA had beaten Japan 31-7 to finish 13th.
HSBC Player of the Final
Joint-top try-scorer with Fiji's Iowane Teba in Los Angeles, Carter came up big when New Zealand needed him, scoring in each of their knockout stage wins (against Great Britain, Australia and Argentina).
In the Cup final against Los Pumas Sevens, Carter displayed his finishing ability to score twice at the end of the first half and ultimately take the match away from his side's opponents.
Carter made six linebreaks in LA, second only to Teba (nine), and contributed 14 tackles to New Zealand's defensive effort at the Dignity Health Sports Park.