9 Feb 2015

All Blacks Sevens beat England in final

12:00 pm on 9 February 2015

New Zealand have beaten England 27-21 in the final of the Wellington Sevens.

Teenager Rieko Ioane scored two tries in New Zealand's 27-21 win over England in the final of the Wellington leg of the rugby sevens World Series, boosting their hopes of automatic Olympic qualification and giving the tournament a shot in the arm.

New Zealand celebrates victory in Wellington Sevens 2015.

New Zealand celebrates victory in Wellington Sevens 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It was their first victory in this season's series.

Playing without injured skipper DJ Forbes for their last two games, the All Blacks Sevens jumped out to an early lead and controlled the game, with England scoring two late tries to give the scoreline some respectability.

Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens praised his young side, particularly 17-year-old Ioane who needed dispensation to play.

Rieko Ioane scores a try in the All Black Sevens win over England in Wellington 2015.

Rieko Ioane scores a try in the All Black Sevens win over England in Wellington 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Tietjens says this would have to be one of the more satisfying victories after they lost Forbes for the last two matches and the experienced Tim Mikkelson earlier in the week.

The top four sides at the conclusion of the nine-tournament series automatically qualify for next year's Rio Olympics, where the shortened version of the sport will make its debut.

South Africa lead on 76 points, with New Zealand (69), Fiji (64) and Australia (58) rounding out the top four.

The local victory was also an undoubted boost for tournament organisers looking ahead to next year's event when high-profile All Blacks are likely to appear in an attempt to make the Rio squad, which would boost crowd numbers.

Organisers had been under pressure after sluggish ticket sales this year with only about 20,000 tickets pre-sold for the event, which has previously sold out its 34,500-capacity within minutes.

The tournament had also been criticised for allowing the party aspect of the event to detract from the rugby with anti-social behaviour seen as a factor in turning off people with families.

Tighter restrictions on alcohol sales and tougher policing had been introduced and tournament general manager Steve Dunbar says that had seen a change in the atmosphere this year.

The teams play in Las Vegas this weekend.

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