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All Blacks Sevens end season on low note

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/05/2017

New Zealand's sluggish world sevens series campaign has ended on a mediocre low, crashing to a record-breaking loss to Australia in a classification game in London.

The All Blacks Sevens were embarrassed 40-7 at Twickenham to opponents they customarily beat, leaving them seventh in the final tournament of the series.

It meant interim coach Scott Waldrom's team never a reached a final in any of the 10 tournaments, leaving them a distant fourth in the final standings.

Their hopes of breaking that drought disappeared in the quarter-finals when they lost 24-21 to eventual tournament champions Scotland, having squandered a 21-0 lead following tries to Sam Dickson, Fa'asiu Fuatai and Andrew Knewstubb.

The Scots scored four unanswered tries in the second half, including the match-winner after New Zealand had been penalised for inadvertently fielding eight players on the field.

It was 7-7 early against Australia thanks to a try to Tone Ng Shiu before New Zealand's defensive line was cut to ribbons, conceding six tries in total.

Waldrom was forced to field a young side because of injuries to several experienced players both before and during the London event.

The fourth placing matches New Zealand's worst finish in the 18-year history of the series, matching finishes in 2006 and 2009.

They are 12-time champions but haven't finished in the top two for three successive seasons.

The tournament followed the pattern of many this season, in which they have looked a quality outfit in pool play before capitulating in the knockout phase.

On Saturday they accounted for Japan 33-7, Canada 19-14 and Fiji 27-21, a result which eliminated the Olympic champions.

Waldrom and Tomasi Cama have shared the coaching role pending the arrival of Scotland's Clark Laidlaw, who takes the reins next week.

Laidlaw was appointed as Sir Gordon Tietjens' replacement following a review into the Rio Olympics failure but he couldn't take up the post until he saw out a contract with English Premiership club London Irish.

Laidlaw may have gleaned some joy from the Twickenham tournament, with Scotland pipping England 12-7 in a tension-filled final.

South Africa had already wrapped up the series title comfortably.

Final standings: South Africa 192 points, England 164, Fiji 150, New Zealand 137, United States 129, Australia 113.

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