Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

N.Z. wins rugby round, Canada rises in standings

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HONG KONG -- Canada moved up two places to seventh in the IRB Sevens World Series standings after finishing tied for seventh Sunday at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.

New Zealand brushed aside England 26-7 to win the event and reclaim top spot in the overall standings.

The All Blacks, the defending World Series champions, won their third tournament this season in style, running four tries past England to claim their 11th Cup championship in Hong Kong and first since 2011.

Canada finished runner-up to England in Pool C with a 2-1-0 record to reach the quarter-finals of the elite Cup competition for the fourth event in a row. And it led Australia twice in Sunday's quarter-final -- 5-0 and 12-7 on tries by Harry Jones and Ciaran Hearn -- before giving up a converted try in the final minute.

Canada then lost 31-14 to Wales in the consolation Plate semifinal. Wales led 19-0 before Canada got on the board. Jones and Sean Duke scored tries for Canada.

The Canadians were without captain Nathan Hirayama, ruled out by injury.

Canada finished 12th in last year's series standings.

In Sunday's final, first-half tries from Ben Lam and Tim Mikkelson gave New Zealand a 12-0 lead but England hit back just before the break when Tom Powell burst through to touch down from a quickly taken tap penalty to reduce the deficit to just five points.

But evergreen captain DJ Forbes, who had a huge impact on the final day with his bustling play at the breakdown, quickly put New Zealand back in command, stretching the lead after receiving a huge cut-out pass from Sherwin Stowers to score uncontested.

"We were given a lesson by England last week (in Tokyo), but here we are on the podium," said an elated Forbes.

Despite a second try by Lam being overturned, and the winger being penalized for an off-the-ball offence, the men in black had too much firepower and sub Sam Dickson sealed victory with his side's fourth try.

The victory allowed New Zealand to regain the lead from South Africa, who had entered the Hong Kong Sevens holding a two-point lead. With two more legs remaining in Scotland and England in May, New Zealand tops the standings with 136 points, seven points ahead of South Africa.

-- The Canadian Press, with files from The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2014 C13

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