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All Blacks Sevens leave it late in thrilling ‘do-or-die’ clash with Blitzboks

By Finn Morton
New Zealand huddle together before playing South Africa in Madrid. Picture: World Rugby.

As the All Blacks Sevens and Blitzboks walked off the field at Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano on Saturday afternoon, their faces told two very different stories. The New Zealanders were pumped and joyous, while the South Africans were visibly disappointed.

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It was a must-win clash for the two great rugby rivals, and in the end, it was New Zealand who got the job done 33-24.

New Zealand and South Africa were both beaten in truly heartbreaking circumstances on the opening day at the SVNS Series’ Grand Final.  The All Blacks Sevens were pipped by a final-play Fiji conversion and Ireland sunk the Blitzboks with an 18th-minute try.

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But those two defeats set the stage for a blockbuster pool stage clash on day two at SVNS Madrid. and while expectations were high, the clash more than lived up to the hype. There was drama, length-of-the-field tries and everything else fans would want.

South Africa took the lead with just over one minute to play as youngster Quewin Nortje crossed for his second try of the contest. Blitzboks fans in the crowd went berserk as the score was awarded after a review by the TMO.

There was more drama to come, though.

With their backs up against the ropes and less than a minute to play, the All Blacks Sevens needed someone to land that knockout blow. They stayed patient as the clock continued to tick closer to full-time and it paid off.

To the delight of some fans at the Spanish venue, Moses Leo raced away for the match-winner.

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“Always a class side and it was do-or-die footy for both of us, both of us had a hard loss yesterday,” Leo told RugbyPass.

“(We) had to get up for this one, they were ready for it, and it’s great for our boys (that) we were able to stay in the grind and get a win in the end.

“We knew we were playing finals a little bit earlier than we’d like to so that’s what the theme is for the rest of our games.

“Finals footy just a little bit earlier than what we’re used to but it’s all good.”

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The All Blacks Sevens, who have come to Madrid on the back of Cup final triumphs in Hong Kong China and Singapore, opened the scoring in the second minute through captain Dylan Collier.

South Africa hit back through Christie Grobbelaar and Quewin Nortje, but the New Zealanders would take a slender lead into the interval after a penalty try was awarded. To add to the drama, the Blitzboks would end up going down to five men after two yellow cards.

But with a two-player disadvantage, they scored one of the most stunning tries of the season with captain Selvyn Davids reaping the rewards.


Leroy Carter and Nortje traded try-scoring blows which set up a grandstand finish.

Enter Moses Leo.

“I sort of heard a few calls and just took the picture that was in front of me and backed myself and backed my speed and backed my strength,” Leo said.

“I think that’s why I’m in the team, to try and come off the bench and try and be an impact and try and be a spark.

“Be patient, calm, and when the opportunity comes don’t be scared to take it,” he added when asked about the team’s approach to that moment.

“Just trusting our processes and trusting all the hard work we put in beforehand… I thought we stepped up.”

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action live and free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

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