New Zealand stun Fiji to seal Commonwealth rugby double

by Robert SMITH

Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) - New Zealand shut out Olympic champions Fiji 14-0 to seal a gold medal double at the Commonwealth Games after winning the inaugural women's title in extra-time on Sunday.

New Zealand's fifth victory in six finals at the Games came after their women's team downed Australia 17-12 in sudden-death.

Kelly Brazier's sudden-death try from inside her own half sealed the thrilling victory for the Kiwi women.

The men's final wasn't anywhere as exciting as the clinical New Zealanders killed off the game with two early converted tries against a ragged Fiji.

"We watched the women go into overtime and their win at the end really inspired us to get the double," skipper Tim Mikkelsen said.

"Not many guys in this team would know the feeling of a gold medal. I got one in Delhi (2010) and was part of the team that lost in Glasgow, so to get this win is amazing."

Fiji, who won last week's Hong Kong sevens, were bidding for their first Commonwealth gold after taking silver behind New Zealand in the inaugural sevens in 1998 and again in 2002.

Etene Nanai-Seturo opened the scoring for New Zealand after two minutes and Vilimoni Koroi's conversion gave them a 7-0 lead.

Tournament topscorer Regan Ware weaved through a woeful Fijian defence, slipping tackles to score New Zealand's second try near the posts for a 14-0 advantage.

Fiji lost Sevuloni Mocenacagi to a yellow card for a high hit but had a let-off during his absence when Ware was over the try-line but spilled the ball.

The Kiwis comfortably wound down the clock for victory and the gold medal.

England stormed back from 0-14 down at half-time with skipper Tom Mitchell scoring the winning try to take the bronze medal 21-14 over South Africa.

The women's gold medal decider was a re-match of their 2016 Rio final with Australia winning the first-ever Olympic gold medal 24-17.

"I guess the last time we played them it was the pinnacle event at the Olympics," Kiwi Theresa Fitzpatrick said.

"We were just a little bit short but I'm really proud of our whole team. It feels so good. I guess we know that we are very similar teams, we don't give up."

Australia coach Tim Walsh, while crushed by the sudden-death defeat, praised the rapid development of women's rugby.

"It was a top game for people to watch, Australia versus New Zealand, extra time, is pretty good," Walsh said.

"The stadium in Rio was nothing like this. What a spectacle and how good is it for women's sevens to play like that," he said.

"It's a huge step forward."

The Kiwis, who overcame a mumps scare before the competition, led 12-0 early but had to withstand a powerful comeback from the Australians, who took the final into extra time at 12-12.

It was Brazier's runaway try near the end of first extra period that broke the deadlock.

England hung on to beat Canada 24-19 in the bronze medal match after leading 19-5 at half-time.