Argentina men, New Zealand women win finals at Vancouver Sevens - Hindustan Times
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Argentina men, New Zealand women win finals at Vancouver Sevens

AP |
Feb 26, 2024 07:56 AM IST

Argentina men, New Zealand women win finals at Vancouver Sevens

VANCOUVER (AP) — Matias Osadczuk scored a second half hat-trick as Argentina continued its domination of the men’s competition in the rugby sevens World Series, beating New Zealand 36-12 in the final of the Vancouver Sevens on Sunday.

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New Zealand ended a season-long title drought by beating France in the women’s final.

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The Argentina men now have won the last three World Series tournaments in Cape Town, Perth and Vancouver and have won 15 consecutive matches over that period. It has lost only two matches this season, to Fiji and South Africa, and has won 18 consecutive matches in Vancouver.

New Zealand was attempting to win its first tournament of the season. It’s best performance so far has been its third placing in the series opener in Dubai and it came into this tournament in sixth place on World Series standings.

New Zealand would have had high hopes after taking an early 12-0 lead in the final with tries to Joe Webber and Brady Bush, who scored from a Weber pass. But Argentina demonstrated its current strength by simply brushing New Zealand aside from that point.

World Sevens Player of the Year Marcos Moneta scored its first try and Luciano Gonzalez its second to level the match at 12-12 at halftime.

Osadczuk then helped Argentina build a commanding lead with three tries in the space of four minutes in the second half. Matteo Graziano capped the win with a last-minute try.

“It’s incredible. I am so proud of this team,” captain Santiago Alvarez said. “Everyone gives their all for the team as you can see in the peformance.

“We are playing to be better each day. That is our focus.”

Argentina now holds a 24 point lead in the men’s series over Ireland with Olympic champion Fiji in third place.

Veteran Portia Woodman-Wickliffe scored three tries as New Zealand beat France 35-19 in the women’s final for its 34th World Series title. The hattrick increased the 32-year-old Woodman-Wickliffe’s all-time try-scoring record in the World Series to 243.

“This brought back memories of old times. I never thought I’d get back to this stage,” Woodman-Wickliffe said. "It’s always about my team. They do all the hard work and leave it up to me to dot it down over the line.”

Woodman-Wickliffe opened the scoring in the first minute of the final, taking advantage of an overlap and dashing 80 meters with French players in hot pursuit to show she still has the pace of old.

France replied immediately with a try to Anne-Cecile Ciofane, leveling the score at 7-7. But Michaela Blyde broke out after a series of mis-directed passes to score and give New Zealand a lead it never relinquished. Blyde now has 216 tries in World Series matches.

Young star Georgia Miller used a massive left-foot sidestep to break the French defense in the sixth minute. Woodman-Wickliffe scored her second a minute later, grabbing a favorable bounce from a kick ahead in one hand as New Zealand took a 28-7 lead to halftime.

France scored first in the second half through Valentine Lotho but Woodman-Wickliffe broke through a narrow gap on the right flank to score her third and clinch New Zealand’s win.

Chloe Powell scored a consolation try for France on fulltime but France still remains without a World Series tiel.

“We talked about momentum coming into this tournament and I’m so proud of the girls taking it game by game and progressing really nicely,” New Zealand captain Risi Pouri-Lane said. “The depth in our team is amazing at the moment and it’s taken the whole squad to be here at this moment right now.”

While Australia only managed fourth place in Vancover, it retained the overall lead in the World Series by six points over New Zealand. France is in third place four points further back.

Antoine Dupont played a key role with a try and two try assists as France rallied from 12-0 down to beat the United States 42-12 in the men’s playoff for third place.

Dupont is on leave from the France 15s team currently playing in the Six Nations tournament to pursue of dream of playing for France at the Paris. He is also likely to play in the Los Angeles leg of the sevens series next weekend.

His performance has been extraordinary throughout the current tournament and he capped his effort by scoring the last of France’s six tries against the USA.

Hosts Canada, boosted by the return of 15s star Sophie de Goede, beat 2016 Olympic champion Australia 19-14 in the women’s third place playoff.

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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