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Contrasting fortunes on day one in Los Angeles

Contrasting fortunes on day one in Los Angeles

All BlacksMarch 3, 2024

The opening day of the Los Angeles Sevens saw contrasting fortunes for the All Blacks Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens.

The Black Ferns overpowered South Africa 41-5 but the All Blacks Sevens were tipped over 24-17 by Australia.

Black Ferns Sevens

The Black Ferns Sevens made light work of first-time US participants South Africa winning their opening Pool A match 41-5.

Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, celebrating her 50th SVNS tournament, snatched the opening kick-off as New Zealand promptly swung onto the attack. A Theresa Stefano bust created the first try for Jorja Miller.

Risi Pouri Lane would snaffle the next Tyler King restart. Michaela Blyde profited in the left-wing corner; South Africa didn't lay a hand on the Taranaki champion who has 217 SVNS tries.

Shiray Kaka has been in career-best form of late and she bagged the next two tries. The first was a routine finish on the right wing after five passes left South Africa undermanned. Her second required greater effort. She spotted a tiny gap near halfway and sprinted through. The Black Ferns Sevens had a handful of tries by halftime with Kelsey Teneti crossing from more efficient lead-up work.

The second spell wasn’t as polished, but Teneti secured a second with a long gallop to the paint. Mahina Paul was put in a vacant pasture from a Jazmin Flex-Hotham pass that enveloped multiple defenders. Ayanda Malinga scored a 60-metre intercept for South Africa.

In the other Pool A match Brazil upset Fiji 12-5. Series leaders Australia beat Ireland 31-0 in their first game.

The Black Ferns Sevens play Brazil at 9:48 am and Fiji at 2:24 pm tomorrow to conclude the round-robin.

New Zealand has won the US Sevens four times. In 2015 Woodman-Wickliffe scored a record (men or women) 14 tries at the US Sevens in Atlanta.

All Blacks Sevens

For the fourth consecutive tournament the All Blacks Sevens have lost their opening pool match. 

The All Blacks Sevens were slow out of the blocks with Sam Dickson yellow-cared after 20 seconds. Australia promptly took advantage with Nathan Lawson scoring his 60th SVNS try. New Zealand would never recover the deficit.  

In the fourth minute, Australia won a breakdown penalty and a sharp change of angle from Nick Malouf opened the defense. Malouf has 76 SVNS tries.

At least Cody Vai continued his rampaging form. He scored the All Blacks Sevens second try and generously passed to Andrew Knewstubb for New Zealand’s initial breakthrough. Knewstubb is playing his first tournament in two years.

There was a glimmer of hope after 11 minutes when only down 19-12. Dietrich Roache quashed that hope with a 30-metre run away. He has scored 674 points in 24 tournaments.

Fehi Fineanganofo faces the prospect of a suspension after a red card. Despite that incident, Xavier Titio-Harris had the final say, supporting a Dickson break. The try secured a consolation bonus point for losing by seven or less.

Hosts USA feature in New Zealand group and they beat Samoa 31-12. Series leaders Argentina struggled past Spain 28-19.

The All Blacks face Samoa at 7:58am NZT and USA at 12:50pm NZT on day two. 

A perfectly timed offload to Kaka helps give @nz_sevens their first win of the #HSBCSVNSLAX weekend 🤝🇳🇿#HSBCSVNS pic.twitter.com/cqUUnQAnOa

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) March 2, 2024

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