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Why the AB 7s were 'emotional' after thrilling semi-final win

By Finn Morton
All Blacks Sevens ace Ngarohi McGarvey-Black.

The All Blacks Sevens are off to the big dance in Hong Kong after beating fierce rivals France 12-7 in a thrilling semi-final on Sunday – and clearly, it meant the world to them.

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Walking off the field at Hong Kong Stadium, you couldn’t wipe the smile off the faces of any player in a black jersey.

While they still have a job to do in Sunday’s final, they have had made history.

After years of heartbreak and defeat, New Zealand had qualified for the men’s final at the home of rugby sevens for the first time since 2016.

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All Blacks Sevens ace Ngarohi McGarvey-Black spoke with RugbyPass about the significance of the moment as he began to make his way down the north-west tunnel.

“Pretty emotional aye? We haven’t had the final here since 2016. This has been one of the pinnacle events for us back in New Zealand,” McGarvey-Black told RugbyPass.

“Just to make it threw, it doesn’t matter who we play, we just wanted to get here. Yeah bro, like I said, it’s pretty emotional.

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“We build our team on a lot of values but love is one of them, it’s just love on the field, love off the field, whatever we do we stay together.

“Just to get a massive win like that right down to the wire on defence, you couldn’t express how much that win means to us.”

The All Blacks Sevens have had France’s number recently, but Saturday afternoons’ clash was a completely different story.

Lewis Ormond opened the scoring in the second minute, but Les Bleus hit back through Varian Pasquet shortly after.

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But cometh the hour, cometh the man – McGarvey-Black gave New Zealand the lead midway through the second half after making a brilliant line break.

As the clock continued to tick ever closer to full-time, New Zealand looked like they were destined to hold on – not that the French bought into that belief.

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After forcing an All Blacks error on their try line, France were awarded an attacking scrum with four seconds to run on the clock.

But that’s all you need in sevens.

The crowd at Hong Kong Stadium watched on in awe and silence, utterly captivated by the enormity of the history that was about to play out before them.

Down by five, this was France’s time to make a statement and silence the sevens world.

But New Zealand calm the French storm. McGarvey-Black made an impressive stop off the scrum, and the All Blacks forced a turnover at the breakdown.

Just like that, the game was over. The All Blacks had won, while France bowed their heads in agonising defeat.

Later, McGarvey-Black revealed that the team had trained for that exact scenario at training.

“We’ve actually trained that scenario,” he added.

“Samoa has actually beaten us on that scenario twice, so we felt comfortable in that position. Obviously a bit nervous but at the same time you produce what you train at home.

“We did that scenario about five times and it was mainly for Samoa, so just to get it against the French boys, it was kind of cool that it paid off.”

The Hong Kong Sevens Cup final between New Zealand and Fiji is set to get underway at abut 1:15am NZT.

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