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18-year-old All Black Sevens' injury call-up steps off plane and smokes the Blitzboks

By Ben Smith
(Source/World Rugby)

All Blacks Sevens’ Xavier Tito-Harris was called up as injury replacement for Moses Leo for the final leg of the World Sevens Series in London.

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The 18-year-old only arrived to the UK on Thursday but the jet lag appeared to have no impact as he logged a second-half double on day one against South Africa in the final pool game of the day.

His first try came from deep inside New Zealand’s 22 as he took on the Blitzboks’ line, bursting through two defenders after a well-placed fend.

Tito-Harris showed his speed as he sprinted away from the cover defence over 80 metres to score in front of the Twickenham crowd.

Less than sixty seconds later he had his second after scooping up a loose pass after the restart.

He nudged the loose pass with a slight kick before skilfully regathering the ball in one motion diving over to score and extend the lead to 32-7 over South Africa.

After making his debut in Hong Kong earlier this year, Tito-Harris is the latest young emerging star for New Zealand along with Cody Vai and Payton Spencer, all of whom have debuted this year.

A late comeback saw the Blitzboks add some respectability to the final 32-21 scoreline but they couldn’t stop the All Blacks Sevens qualifying for the Cup quarter-finals.

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The New Zealand men’s Sevens side showed no signs of slowing down after already claiming the Series title in Toulouse last weekend.

Pool stage wins over USA by 35-17 and Great Britain by 20-5 set up a quarter-final showdown with France.

In the other Cup quarter-finals Argentina face Ireland, Samoa face Great Britain and Fiji play Australia.

Australia and Samoa head into Sunday in a two-way battle for the last automatic Olympic Games qualification spot.

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J
Jon 2 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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