New Zealand took the honours at Murrayfield this afternoon. They won the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens, beating Samoa 34-5 in the final, and by doing so they edged past Fiji to regain the IRB World Series trophy.
Fiji, last year’s series winners, had to be content with the consolation of winning the Plate, beating Kenya 31-7 in the final. That victory took their series tally to 128 points, but New Zealand beat that with 130 in winning the Cup for the seventh time in the competitions eight years.
In the six matches over the two days New Zealand scored 195 points and conceded only five tries. Those figures alone were a simple measure of the huge dominance they exerted on the tournament.
Samoa went into the final with a squad depleted because of disciplinary action. Uale Mai was suspended for one match after he had been cited for striking an opponent in the 24-14 semi-final victory against Argentina.
In the final itself Fautua Otto gave Samoa hope with a try that replied to Adam Thomson’s opening score and cut New Zealand’s lead to 7-5. But straight from the restart Adam Thomson ran away for his second try, and immediately after Lolo Lui had been sin-binned D J Forbes scored for a 19-5 half-time lead.
Forbes had a second after the interval. Then Tomasi Cama ran in from a close-range scrum to add to his two first-half conversions, and Afeleke Pelenise finished off with an interception try.
Close on 30,000 were drawn to Murrayfield over the two days - 13,950 on Saturday, and 15,419 today. But the home support’s dreams of seeing Scotland make an extended run to a final were destroyed by Argentinian and Kenyan hands. The Pumas removed the Scots from the Cup competition at the quarter-final stage, and Kenya followed up by beating the home team in a Plate semi-final.
Scotland paid the penalties for two poor kick-offs against Argentina. From each they conceded a try, the first by Gonzalo Camacho only 38 seconds into the match, and the Argentinians went on to a 22-10 victory despite Scottish tries by Mark Robertson and Roddy Grant. Robertson’s score briefly revived Scottish hopes, cutting the Pumas back to 17-5, but from a faulty restart Ramiro del Busto notched a third Argentinian try before Grant’s late counter.
To lose to Kenya, however, was much more galling as the Scots led 17-5 at the interval. Colin Shaw opened and closed the first-half scoring with his strong runs up the right touchline. Scott Forrest, the Scotland captain, also scored, but instead of pressing home their advantage in the second half the home team lost tries to Humphrey Kayange and Gibson Weru Kahuthia.
England and France won the two other trophies on offer in the Murrayfield tournament. The former beat Portugal 31-0 in the Bowl final, with two tries each by Tom Williams and Noah Cato as well as one from Michael Hills, and the French won the Shield with victory against Russia by 21-12.
England and Fiji each had to go to extra time to reach their finals. Hills took England through against Australia 24-19 after an extra minute, and Fiji saw off South Africa in overtime, though almost three minutes had gone before Mosese Volavola eased the islanders through by 19-14.
William Ryder seemed to have settled that tie late in the second half with a try that hoisted his tally to 403 at the top of the world series points-scoring list. But time was still left for Gio Aplon to draw South Africa level.
Among the lesser lights none did more than Russia to attract the Murrayfield crowd’s support, especially in the Shield semi-final win against Italy. Vladimir Ostroushko scored three tries in that 19-17 victory, charging up the touchline like a Russian rhino. He had another in the Shield final, and even though could not prevent defeat the Scottish crowd responded that score if he were one of their own.