NZ cruises into Las Vegas sevens rugby final
New Zealand will play a South Africa in the final of the Las Vegas sevens after easing past Canada in today's semifinal.
A brace of tries to Bryce Heem and further tries to Scott Curry and Tim Mikkelson helped the Kiwis predictably beat Canada 24-7 to set up a replay of last year's final.
South Africa promise to be a far tougher prospect after blanking Samoa in their semifinal to continue a remarkable defensive performance at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Bok sevens team have incredibly conceded just one try in the tournament, against Kenya during pool play, and will be warm favourites to win their third Las Vegas title.
However, New Zealand have already faced adversity at the event going into the final day without suspended players George Tilsley and Sam Dickson.
Tilsley will be available for the final after serving a two-match ban for a tip tackle in a pool match against Fiji, though Dickson's suspension for eye-gouging in the same game runs until after the Wellington tournament next month.
Canada made the perfect start in the semifinal when Philip Mack won a turnover and scored the easiest of tries, but New Zealand responded in typical fashion.
Curry found space to tie the scores with a converted try and then, as they have all tournament, the Kiwis scored on the stroke of halftime, Heem trotting under the posts to make it 12-7.
After the break Mikkelson strode in under the posts before Heem guaranteed the win with his second near full-time.
"Canada took it to us and full credit to them," New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said after the match.
"The final is another game and replica of last year's final. We have never won in Vegas so we are going to give it a good go."
South Africa had to work hard to beat Samoa, Chris Dry scoring the first try after the halftime hooter for a 7-0 lead.
Sampie Mastriet scored under posts as he pulled a hamstring early in the second before the two sides resumed their hard-hitting defensive efforts.
South Africa thumped New Zealand in last year's final 40-12.
New Zealand 24 (Bryce Heem 2, Scott Curry, Tim Mikkelson tries, Gillies Kaka 3 cons) Canada 7 (Philip Mack try, Mack con). HT: 12-7
South Africa 14 (Chris Dry, Sampie Mastriet tries, Cecil Afrika 2 cons) Samoa 0. HT:7-0