GOLD COAST, Australia -- Ambrose Curtis scored two tries as New Zealand beat Australia 40-19 in the final of the Gold Coast rugby sevens tournament on Sunday, making a winning start to the defence of its World Series title.
New Zealand conceded only one try in five matches leading up to the final, keeping its goalline intact in pool play and the quarterfinals, then beating England 14-5 in a tight semifinal. But Australia rocked the world champions with tries to Ed Jenkins and Paul Stannard to take an early 12-0 lead in the final, seeking its first win on home soil in 11 years and its first over New Zealand since 2011.
Curtis then scored twice as New Zealand rallied to lead 14-12 at halftime before racing away from a tiring Australian team that played 10 minutes of extra time in its semifinal.
Tomasi Cama, who converted both of Curtis' tries, scored and converted a try of his own to give New Zealand the comfort of a 21-12 lead and Waisake Naholo kicked ahead a loose ball to stretch the lead to 26-12.
Joe Webber scored a try that was also converted by Cama and New Zealand had scored 33 unanswered points before Australia hit back with a try to Cameron Clark.
New Zealand sealed its win, and went immediately to the top of the World Series standings, with a final try to David Raikuna.
New Zealand's Tim Mikkelson, who was the top tryscorer at the tournament with seven, limped from the field in the final and needed medical attention. Cama ended the tournament with 46 points, taking his career tally to 1,910, but Australia captain Ed Jenkins was named Player of the Tournament.
Earlier, Australia had needed a try to Jesse Parahi in the 10th minute of extra time to beat South Africa 24-19 in its semifinal, giving it a chance to win its home leg of the World Series for the first time since 2002.
England beat a fatigued South African side 47-0 in the third-place playoff.
New Zealand beat Samoa 40-0 in the quarterfinals while England ousted Fiji 26-12, leaving the Fijians -- under former England coach Ben Ryan -- to take some small consolation from the plate championships.
Ryan, who was coaching Fiji in a World Series tournament for the first time, saw promise in their performance.
"On the field we have a lot of work to do," he said. "We have a huge amount of talent in Fiji. Now we just need to make sure we have the right guys on the pitch, they are fit and good for purpose.
"We want to be lifting Cups, not Plates. When we are on the money, as you've seen here, they play good rugby, we just need to be more consistent."
The next leg of the series is at Dubai on Nov. 29 and 30.