Samoa shocks New Zealand in Dubai Sevens final
DUBAI — Samoa overcame the might of New Zealand 26-15 in a thrilling end to the 2012 Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens late on Saturday.
It was the Pacific Islanders’ third attempt at a Dubai final in the HSBC Sevens World Series, having lost twice here at the Sevens Stadium in 2009 and 2010.
Two early Paul Perez tries gave the 2009/10 series champions a 12-0 advantage, Patrick Faapale completing one of the two conversions.
Ben Lam and DJ Forbes fought back for New Zealand before the interval, but a Lio Lolo try and another Faapale conversion took Samoa 19-10 ahead at half-time.
Kurt Baker got New Zealand’s deficit down to four shortly after, but Tulolo Tulolo put the Samoans back in control before Faapale made it an unassailable 11-point lead.
The Samoans started their tournament slowly, with a narrow 24-19 opening Pool C win over Portugal. They then lost to England 19-17 before a salvage job 10-5 win against South Africa qualified them as group leaders on points difference ahead of Portugal.
They beat Wales 19-7 in the quarter-finals on Saturday and truly asserted their authority with a 12-5 defeat of France in the semis.
New Zealand — the record ten-time series champions and five-time former Dubai winners — were on cruise control out of Pool B after beating Wales, Russia and Argentina with respective scores of 14-7, 31-14 and 17-7.
They were also unfazed in the quarters and semis, strolling to wins over Portugal (28-7) and Kenya (27-7).
The Kenyans, meanwhile, followed up on one of their best ever starts to a Sevens World Series — they finished fourth in round one on Australia’s Gold Coast last month — with victory in the third place play-off, beating France 15-12.