Mixed fortunes for NZ sides on day two in Vancouver
Day Two of the Vancouver Sevens saw contrasting fortunes for the All Blacks and Black Ferns Sevens.
Unfortunately, the All Blacks Sevens were beaten 17-7 in the quarter-finals by reigning World Series champions Australia. With only the top four counties guaranteed automatic Olympic qualification in Paris in 2024, it was a real display of grit by the Aussies who were sixth coming into the tournament.
By contrast, the Black Ferns Sevens won through to the semi-final withstanding fierce resistance from hosts Canada.
Kelly Brazier had the honour of leading out the Black Ferns for their quarter-final against Canada. It was her 200th match on the World Series on a night when she was celebrating the arrival of her second child back in New Zealand.
Initially, the home crowd was silenced quickly when Tyla Nathan-Wong set up Portia Woodman-Wickliffe after Michaela Blyde had earlier blasted through the defense for her 188th World Series try.
Brazier went close to a fairy-tale try early in the second half but when Keyara Wardley made an inspirational breakdown turnover momentum shifted in the hosts' direction.
New Zealand lost a player to the sin bin for a yellow card and then Wardley scored a try with three minutes to go to half the deficit.
It’s official.. with that quarter final win our wāhine have qualified for #Paris2024! pic.twitter.com/dV4q18yfkz— NZ Sevens (@nz_sevens) March 5, 2023
Risi Pouri-Lane made a huge tackle on Olivia De Couvreur to save a certain try for Canada and then Sarah Hirini led some desperate scramble as the Black Ferns won their 43rd quarter-final out of 47 to establish a date with France tomorrow.
Earlier New Zealand continued its dominance of Fiji with a resounding 24-7 victory in their last group game. Blyde was illusive with two tries, Hirini has a handful of tries to go with her outstanding leadership and defensive hustle and Jazmin Felix-Hotham looks at home more every game she plays.
In their last pool match the All Black Sevens produced arguably their best display of the season overpowering Samoa 40-5. Samoa who’d beaten New Zealand in LA last week was no match for an aggressive and polished All Black outfit. Joe Webber scored three tries with Brady Rush, Akuila Rokolisoa, and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black also making it onto the scoreboard. McGarvey-Black was on target with five conversions.
Unfortunately, the form would not carry over to the finals. Henry Paterson, who scored twice against the All Blacks in LA last week, struck after two minutes only for Ngarohi McGarvey-Black to respond for New Zealand. A Darby Lancaster try put Australia ahead 12-7 at the interval.
In the second half, New Zealand struggled to create momentum and Paterson sealed the All Blacks fate in the last minute. Great Britain in a fifth-place playoff is the first assignment on Day 3.
Our Black Ferns Sevens hold on for a spot in the semi-finals! 🙌🏽— NZ Sevens (@nz_sevens) March 5, 2023
They take on France tomorrow (Monday) at 10.26am NZT#Canada7s | #BlackFerns7s pic.twitter.com/Rmo5Bwx4IE