|New Zealand has finished day one of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series tournament in Brazil top of their pool after wins against Ireland, USA and England today.|
After keeping (36-0) and USA (17-0) scoreless, New Zealand were initially caught napping before taking a 21-14 win over England in their final pool match at Sao Paulo’s Arena Barueri.
England struck first with a converted try to Claire Allen but Portia Woodman’s try gave the New Zealanders a much needed equaliser just before the break.
In one of the best contests of the day, both sides touched down with second half tries to New Zealand’s Sarah Goss then England’s Amy Wilson-Hardy to level the score at 14-all with just two minutes to play.
England looked to gained some momentum forcing New Zealand to play inside their own 22 but a stolen ball and a sudden break saw Sarah Goss stretch out for a 60-metre run to bank a 21 – 14 win right on the final whistle.
Coach Sean Horan said they knew that teams would be competitive in their pool but the team had stepped up and their good preparation showed.
“The first day was a big day, three pretty hard games … I thought the girls went pretty well. Physically with the weather conditions, it’s pretty hot, but they shaped up pretty well,” he said.
“I’m really proud of the girls and the way they finished – with the patience’ time up on the clock, 14-all against England, and we hold on for that many phases and then finally strike and beat them. I think our conditioning really showed and probably our culture really came through on day one.”
Earlier, Taranaki sensation Michaela Blyde continued her remarkable introduction to Sevens, scoring New Zealand’s first try of the day against Ireland.
Blyde would score two more tries in the match while Jordon Webber, Tyla Nathan-Wong and Gayle Broughton also crossed for an emphatic win against the Irish.
The Americans threw everything at the New Zealand Women in game two, keeping them away from the scoreboard until two minutes from half time when Carla Hohepa finally put New Zealand on the board with a try. The New Zealanders regained their composure for a clinical second half with Hohepa and skipper Huriana Manuel dotting down.
In other results, Canada remained unbeaten to continue their impressive Sevens form, while host nation Brazil struggled although they came close to causing an upset against the Netherlands.