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‘We didn’t execute’: All Blacks Sevens suffer heartbreaking loss in Madrid

By Finn Morton
Joe Webber of New Zealand against Argentina. Picture: World Rugby/ Mike Lee.

With the blow of a whistle from the on-field referee, New Zealand’s hopes and dreams of taking out the inaugural SVSN Series Grand Final in Madrid were dashed. They had thrown everything at Argentina but pulled up short in a heartbreaking 21-14 loss.

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When the enthralling battle came to an end at Civitas Metropolitano on Sunday afternoon, it was one of those sporting moments were time stood still. Most of the crowd went berserk as the New Zealanders began to process what had just happened.

The two teams shook hands and slowly began to make their way to the tunnel and away from the public eye. All Blacks Sevens coach Tomasi Cama was the first to walk towards the changerooms before the playing group followed.

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Veterans Scott Curry and Sam Dickson had a dejected look of disappointment on their face but still found time to sign autographs and take some photos. Last year’s World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year nominee Leroy Carter did the very same.

New Zealand had won Cup finals in Hong Kong China and Singapore, but after falling short in the winner-takes-all event in Madrid, they have missed out on the chance to be crowned the overall SVNS Series champions.

“Just gutted,” Carter told RugbyPass. “I thought the boys prepped really well and it just comes down to moments and we didn’t execute those moments.

“It’s always going to be hard being the top eight from the regular Series season but we knew what we’re coming up against, there are no excuses. We should have won that game but we didn’t.

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“Props to Argie, they played well but the boys just need to execute those little moments.”

The All Blacks Sevens had started the blockbuster semi-final in some strong form with Joe Webber and Moses Leo scoring either side of a Matteo Graziano try to give them the lead.

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Graziano levelled the scores at 14-all just before the half-time break and completed a decisive hat-trick in the 11th minute to give Los Pumas Sevens the lead for the first time.

While the New Zealanders had plenty of ball late in the contest, and even looked a chance of breaking away for a final play score through either Regan Ware or Andrew Knewstubb, but it wasn’t to be in the end.

One knock-on was the final say. In front of a vibrant crowd that had to be at least 90 per cent Argentinian at that stage, the men in black had fought valiantly.

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But as Carter said without any hesitation: “I love that s***. I love being hated on the field.

“It fuels me, we love it. So, no worries for us.”

For fans of the All Blacks Sevens, as well as the Black Ferns Sevens who were beaten by Australia earlier on Sunday, there is one more title to be won this season.

While Madrid is the final stop on the SVNS Series for the 2023/24 campaign but the Paris Olympics are only a matter of weeks away. Olympic gold is a big prize that all qualified teams are desperate to claim.

“We’ve been building well and we can’t just let one game ruin that confidence.

“We’re definitely going to keep building and we’ve still got one to go today.”

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

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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