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'It's the pinnacle': Why Hong Kong title meant so much to AB 7s

By Finn Morton
All Blacks Sevens.

The All Blacks Sevens made history on Sunday night as they ended nine years of heartbreak and disappointment with a Cup final triumph at the esteemed Hong Kong Sevens.

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It was their first title in Hong Kong in almost a decade, and clearly it meant the world to the players.

New Zealand have made winning a habit this season, but there’s something special about Hong Kong – for rugby fans and players all around the world, this event is high on their ‘must do’ lists.

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Legendary players including the likes of Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu have plied their trade at the spiritual home of sevens, while modern day gladiators continue to make their mark.

The All Blacks extended their lead at the top of the World Series with a hard-fought 24-17 win over Fiji in the Cup final last weekend.

After sneaking past France in a thrilling semi-final, the men in black booked their place in the big day at Hong Kong Stadium – their first decider in seven years at the prestigious event.

But as the sports adage goes, nobody remembers second place. The All Blacks were there to win, and it doesn’t get much bigger on the sevens circuit than a final against Fiji in Hong Kong.

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New Zealanders Cody Vai, Sione Molia and Leroy Carter crossed  for first half tries, as the team raced out to a commanding 19-nil lead.

But Fiji refused to throw in the towel – and looked a chance of completing an incredible comeback, although New Zealand managed to hang on.

The significance of their historic achievement began to sink in as the referees whistle brought an end to the titanic tussle.

Later, with a medal around his neck, All Blacks Sevens co-captain Dylan Collier described the event as the “Mecca of the World Series.”

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“It’s the pinnacle of the World Series behind the Olympics and that which have just come in, but before that this was the Mecca of the World Series,” Collier told RugbyPass.

“It’s awesome just for me personally. I started in 2015 and made a couple of finals but to finally win it, it’s awesome.

“It’s right up there, like you said, especially being the captain and the group of boys we have, we’ve got a real young group and they’re the future of our team.

“For me it’s to try and lead from the front and show them the way and to show them how good it is to win.”

The All Blacks overcame an incredibly tough draw to win it all in Hong Kong.

After starting their campaign with a 29-5 win over fallen giant Kenya, New Zealand defeated rivals South Africa and Ireland to top Pool D.

But it didn’t get any easier for them in the knockout rounds.

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New Zealand registered a convincing 24-10 win over the high-flying Los Pumas – a team who beat the kiwis in a Cup final in Hamilton earlier this year, and currently sit second on the World Series.

World Series juggernauts France fell painfully short of an incredible semi-final win over the All Blacks, who charged into the previously mentioned final with confidence and belief.

“It’s unbelievable. We put in so much effort over the weekend or even the week leading up to get things right,” he added.

“We started really well in this final and we put them under a lot of pressure and managed to hold on.

“That’s just them, you can never take them lightly no matter how far you’re up.

“We’re just lucky the time ran out and we managed to get the win in the end.”

The All Blacks Sevens are back in action this weekend in Singapore, but they’re in an incredibly tough pool.

New Zealand have been draw in Pool A alongside South Africa, Australia and Hong Kong China.

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Tim 4 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

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