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'That hurt a lot': How Hamilton heartbreak is fuelling ABs 7s in Sydney

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

The All Blacks Sevens fell painfully short of a fairytale finish in Hamilton last weekend, and the feeling of heartbreak and defeat hasn’t gone away.

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After more than two decades of Sevens events in the rugby-mad nation, New Zealanders farewelled the World Series for the final time last weekend.

So, for the players fortunate enough to don the coveted black jersey at FMG Stadium Waikato, the event simply meant more.

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The Hamilton Sevens was an opportunity for players to honour the legacy of New Zealand Sevens one more time on home soil, by playing their hearts out in front in front of their roaring supporters.

While the Black Ferns Sevens were able to etch their names into New Zealand sporting folklore with some silverware, beating USA in the final, the men couldn’t do the same.

Playing against Argentina in the decider, the All Blacks Sevens performed admirably and were so nearly rewarded for their efforts – only to be denied by a Tobias Wade conversion with a minute to play.

The 14-12 result sent Los Pumas and their supporters into a frantic state of euphoria, while their opponents were left disappointed.

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But that result won’t define this team; they’re eager to go one better in Sydney this weekend.

“We never like losing and just the way we lost right at home, and (it was) a couple of the boys’ 50ths and our last time in Hamilton for a while,” Captain Sam Dickson told RugbyPass.

“That hurt a lot and it’s definitely added fuel to the fire for this weekend.”

After starting their Sydney Sevens campaign with emphatic wins over Uruguay and Kenya, the men in black appear to be tracking well ahead of a titanic clash against South Africa.

The Blitzboks have hit some form themselves, though, having scored close to 60 points across their two games so far.

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While there is plenty of respect for these two teams off the field, they’ll charge into battle as the warriors they are when the referee signals time on.

Sevens veteran Dickson believes the New Zealanders are “tracking well” at this stage of the tournament, but will need to be ready to match South Africa’s abundance of pace.

“If we’d said we’d have a, I don’t know 70-odd point differential after two games, we definitely would’ve taken that,” he added.

“We’re tracking well, the squads nice and fit. We’ll be looking at South Africa now.

“They’re always very physical and fast and obviously got a lot of them little steppers.

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“Our defence will have to be on point to be able to stop them from beating several of us, so we look towards that and look to wrap them up.”

As for the win over Kenya early on Day Two, the All Blacks unleashed an avalanche of points on one of the fallen giants of the Sevens World Series.

Akuila Rokolisoa scored the first try of the contest in just the third minute, and the All Blacks Sevens added another two tries before the half-time break.

There was plenty of feeling out there, but it was all one way traffic as the World Series leaders recorded a 33-nil victory.

“Gotta give credit to Kenya though, they really pushed us. I know the scoreboard didn’t sound like that but it was tough out there.

“They really got up to that. It was physical, we were missing tackles, but it was very pleasing to keep them to zero again and score some good tries.”

The winner of Pool B will be decided on Saturday afternoon as the New Zealanders go head-to-head with traditional rivals South Africa at 3.49pm (AEDT).

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