New Zealand claimed a fourth successive title on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series – and sixth in total – after beating the Women’s Sevens Eagles in the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens final in Glendale, Colorado, on Sunday.
The Black Ferns Sevens have now won 33 consecutive matches, including the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens, after another dominant weekend in the opening round of the 2019 series at Infinity Park.
USA were bidding to win a first series title in their fifth Cup final and opened the scoring through captain Nicole Heavirland, but New Zealand’s response was swift with Portia Woodman leaving Naya Tapper in her wake to run tie the scores at 7-7.
Woodman ran in a second try in the sixth minute, having too much pace for Cheta Emba to catch her, although the American was close enough to force the Black Ferns Sevens star to dot down out wide, not that it made a difference with Tyla Nathan-Wong landing the conversion.
A quick burst of speed then put captain Sarah Goss through a gap to give New Zealand a 21-7 lead at half-time. That advantage grew when Ruby Tui, who was later named HSBC Player of the Final, straightened an attack and offloaded to Niall Williams. She was initially brought down short of the line by Alev Kelter, but quickly released the ball and dived over the line.
It was left to Woodman to put the icing on the victory by completing her hat-trick, taking her tally for the tournament to 10 and bringing her to 195 tries in series history.
“I’m just extremely proud, I’m proud of the efforts of the girls,” Goss said afterwards. “We played a short pre-season but it’s been great for us because it means that we got to play earlier than we wanted. I thought the girls have performed extremely well. We had girls back in the black jersey who haven’t played in a while and I think they really showed why they are supposed to be here.
“We are just really pleased, we knew that the last world series stung us a bit and if we wanted to continue the success we have to be dominant in every single game and I thought the girls showed that over the last couple of games. We know that we want to go to Tokyo and we don’t want to leave it until 2020, so if we were to qualify, it was going to have to start with this tournament.
“It means that we will continue to build momentum for us heading into Dubai and that’s what our coaches asked of us and that’s what we did.”
USA coach Chris Brown added: “It’s been brilliant here, we had a jersey presentation on Friday night with all our friends and families. It means a lot to play at home. It’s not a big sport here yet but it is growing and to have a stadium where the atmosphere was awesome in front of our family and friends has been outstanding. It’s a blessing (to win silver), again there is always going to be a lot to work on but it’s the way that they came out today and given us this opportunity to build into this series is outstanding.”