Text, Pictures and Video: World Rugby
New Zealand were popular winners with the Japanese crowd after the world champions beat first-time Cup finalists France 24-12 to complete a successful defence of the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens title on Sunday.
The two teams had met in the final match of day one with the Black Ferns Sevens running out convincing 38-7 winners at the Mikuni World Stadium, but the final was a much closer affair and only settled after late scores by Portia Woodman and HSBC Player of the Final Tyla Nathan-Wong.
New Zealand had lost Niall Williams to injury before the final but they made the perfect start with Michaela Blyde scoring in the opening minute. However, France regrouped and some good link play between captain Fanny Horta and Marjorie Mayans down the left created an opportunity they were unable to turn into the points due to the pace of Woodman.
Les Bleues did draw level after a period of possession with some quick hands allowing Camille Grassineau to touch down under the posts, but New Zealand edged ahead once more when Theresa Fitzpatrick broke through to score on the stroke of half-time to make it 12-7.
New Zealand lost Gayle Broughton to the sin-bin early in the second half and in her absence France struck once again through Montserrat Amedee, failing to take the lead for the first time after Jade Le Pesq was unable to add the conversion. The next score would be crucial and it arrived in a familiar fashion, Woodman receiving the ball out wide and her burst of acceleration enough to take her around the French defender and away for the try, leaving Nathan-Wong to make certain of the win with their fourth try.
RE:LIVE: The speedster @PortiaWoodman scores a crucial try in the final of the #Kitakyushu7s to help her side to their second tournament win in Kitakyushu @DHLRugby pic.twitter.com/pyg62wxf9m— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 22, 2018
RE:LIVE: The speedster @PortiaWoodman scores a crucial try in the final of the #Kitakyushu7s to help her side to their second tournament win in Kitakyushu @DHLRugby pic.twitter.com/pyg62wxf9m
"There were some massive plays there, the girls really stepped up. We have had a couple of injuries over the last few weeks and to come away with back-to-back golds is pretty special and I can't wait to get home and celebrate with our families," said New Zealand captain Sarah Goss afterwards.
Coach Allan Bunting added: "It is pretty special, we always want to do well and then to do really well at the Commonwealth Games and to back it up here is really satisfying. I think the last couple of weeks we have done a lot of learning and growing and we have got some really good foundations in our programme and those foundations are building towards Tokyo which is great.
The victory sees New Zealand cut Australia's lead in the standings to six points with two rounds to go in Langford and Paris. Russia are a further eight points adrift on 42 after finishing fifth, while France's runners-up finish means they now sit fourth with 40 points with Canada and Spain completing the top six with 32 points.
Kitakyushu | Results Day 2
World Sevens Series | Standings
Pic: World Rugby
The nominations for the World Rugby Awards are in! In the men's category Fiji's Jerry Tuwai, Australia's Ben O' Donnell and USAs Perry Baker are going head-to-head for the precious award. The women's nominations include with Michaela Blyde, Portia Woodman as well as Sarah Goss, three Black Ferns.
You have declined cookies. This decision can be reversed.
Change Cookie Consent
You have allowed cookies to be placed on your computer. This decision can be reversed.