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‘Wait and see’: New Zealand get Cape Town SVNS back on track against old foe

By Finn Morton
Australia and New Zealand players prepare to scrum during the men's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 pool C match between New Zealand and Australia at the Cape Town stadium in Cape Town on December 9, 2023. (Photo by Rodger Bosch / AFP) (Photo by RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images)

There might not be a better rivalry in all of southern hemisphere sports than New Zealand versus Australia. It’s a matchup that transcends sport as national bragging rights go up for grabs each and every time.

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Whether it’s in rugby union, league, cricket or even sailing, these matchups become a hot topic of discussion in either nation as the Trans-Tasman foes prepare for a sports war built on respect.

Another chapter in the long-lasting history of this rivalry was written on Saturday afternoon in Cape Town, South Africa, as New Zealand looked to bounce back from a surprise loss at the SVNS.

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Only a couple of hours after their shockingly surprising 19-7 defeat to Canada, the All Blacks Sevens charged onto the field at the Cape Town Stadium with a genuine point to prove.

Australia had blitzed Samoa earlier that day, and the men in gold appeared to be full of confidence ahead of their decisive pool match. But it wasn’t even close in the end.

2022 Sevens Player of the Year nominee Leroy Carter scored a first-half hat-trick as the New Zealanders ran away with a relentlessly dominant 35-5 win.

You couldn’t wipe the smile off Carter’s face as the All Blacks Sevens star walked off the field and down the tunnel at the well-known South African sports venue. Away from the watchful eyes of fans, it was clear how much that meant to the players.

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“It’s obviously a good feeling (beating) the old neighbours. It’s always a good battle and it definitely wasn’t easy,” Carter told RugbyPass.

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“We’re definitely proud of it but there’s always room to improve,” he added. “We’re gonna get better throughout this tourney and I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.

“It’s always good but a wins a win – we want to beat everyone. We don’t really care who we come up against, we want to put in a performance like that.

“But it does make it a little better beating Aussie.”

The All Blacks Sevens are the reigning world champions after a headline-grabbing run to glory in 2022/23, and many expected their reign to continue ahead of the new season.

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New Zealand have only failed to defend their world title at last once on two occasions – with the men’s and women’s teams both failing to hit the mark on one occasion each.

But the men in black failed to reach the heights of cup final glory in Dubai last weekend. Argentina booked their place in their first-ever decider at that event with a tough win in the semis.

Looking to bounce back a week later, Canada proved too good during one of the early contenders for the upset of the season.

“We obviously didn’t start off very well against Canada but it was good to see the boys put a performance in,” Carter said

“To get on the end of a couple of meat pies (against Australia) wasn’t too bad eight.

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“(Canada) are a good team. We had a rough start against them actually the weekend before in Dubai and we should’ve learned from that but we didn’t and that’s what happens when you come into a game not prepped right and I guess we’ll learn from that.”

This All Blacks Sevens side is far from the finished product, but they know that. They feel the expectations and pressure set of them – as does any New Zealand rugby team.

But it’s all part of the journey. There’s no need to set off the alarms or break out into a panic, the New Zealanders are building for sport’s ultimate prize.

“We definitely started off Dubai better than we did Hong Kong last year.

“There’s just heaps of room to improve and I guess we’re not trying to be the best at the moment, we want to be the best in a couple of months’ time at the Olympics.”

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Comments

2 Comments
P
Pecos 195 days ago

I think he means the top 8 winner takes all final is in two months, not the Olympics. But yeah, correct, everything between now & then is virtually practice for the finals weekend.

H
Henrik 195 days ago

AB7s seem to be a bit off track in Cape Town…..

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