Magic final moment from Cullen

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The Independent Online
New Zealand retained their Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Bank Sevens title yesterday and along the way confirmed that they have unearthed another major talent in Wellington's Christian Cullen.

One magic moment from an epic final against Western Samoa that will live with the 40,000 crowd for years to come was produced by Cullen.

Dodging and weaving behind his own post, he evaded three would-be tacklers and broke free to create a sensational length-of-the-field try for Waisake Masirewa. That put his side on the way to a 19-17 win.

Cullen, at 5ft 8in a diminutive figure next to the 6ft 4in Jonah Lomu, played down his role in the All Blacks success. "We had all our top sevens players here and they came good," he said modestly. "I am pretty pleased with the way I played but the whole team played well."

Grahame Taylor, the New Zealand manager, said "If ever a guy was going to the top, he's that. He is destined to go all the way."

Cullen helped to end England's tournament with a display of awesome power and agility as he scored three tries in New Zealand's 42-19 semi-final victory.

Scotland, who tour New Zealand this summer, are next in line to face Cullen's prodigious talent for he looks certain to be chosen as the next New Zealand full-back.

Cullen scored 17 tries in his five games up to the final but his pace and elusive running created many more as New Zealand lived up to their billing as favourites.

The tournament may have produced the predictable result but the Five Nations representatives can feel generally pleased with their first major sortie as all five countries sent strong teams with next year's World Cup Sevens at the same venue in mind.

England, without their captain, Damian Hopley, never recovered after going 21-0 down but they fought back with spirit and determination.

When Adedeyo Adebeyo, Austin Healey and Neil Back crossed the line, England became the only team in the tournament to score three tries against the All Blacks.

Wales, who gave Fiji a fright before going down 28-12 yesterday, and Ireland, thrashed 59-0 by the All Blacks, achieved their limited ambitions by reaching the quarter-finals.

Scotland, who failed to get past the group stage, suffered more disappointment when they lost 15-7 to eventual winners France in the plate.

Results, Digest, page 19