Women take fourth World Series title in Canada New Zealand secures Olympics qualification 

Apr 20 • General News, International, Sevens Rugby • 1291 Views • Comments Off on Women take fourth World Series title in Canada New Zealand secures Olympics qualification 

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    New Zealand has won the Canada Sevens, cementing their dominance in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series  and securing their qualification for the Rio Olympics after beating Russia 29-10 in the Final today.

The side remained unbeaten to continue their command of the event and the success will allow coach Sean Horan to apply a different focus for the last two rounds in London and Amsterdam as opposed to a ‘preparation’ focus that has been the feature so far.  Click here to view the points table.  

New Zealand dominated the Final getting out to a 19-0 lead with tries to Portia Woodman who scored the first two and then Kayla McAlister. Ekaterina Kazakova scored both of Russia’s tries, but with Carla Hohepa and Honey Hireme scoring in the second half, New Zealand were well in charge.
 
Speaking from Vancouver Island after the match, Coach Sean Horan said making their Olympic berth was not something the team talked about, and nor did they mention their number of consecutive wins.
 
“Those things don’t ring our bells, what does is getting better every day, challenging each other, learning and embracing it while also enjoying it,” he said.
 
During this latest success he said the effort of Kelly Brazier had been impressive because she was becoming more of a defensive player. She had always been world-class with her attacking ability and stepping but she was showing she understood what rugby was about from a defensive perspective.
 
“Honey Hireme is getting better and better as an older player. When you’re older you have to work harder and harder and she is working not just on attack now but set piece and in the defence,” he said.
 
And the efforts of youngesters Michaela Blyde and Gail Broughton, who were sitting in the wings behind Portia Woodman and Kayla McAlister, backed up the squad development.
 
Horan said that meeting the previously eighth-ranked Russia in the Final had demonstrated the way the women’s sevens movement was developing.
 
“We’ve been impressed by the quality of rugby being played, anyone can make the Final from the top eight and that is testament to a lot of the international programmes doing a bloody lot of hard work.
 
“I think it has surprised everyone how quickly this advance is happening. It is huge. The quality of the conditioning, the skill sets, the tactical understanding, the game plan, it’s just dramatic and we are seeing huge shifts every six weeks.
 
“They are starting to find their own brand and blend in the way this game is being played,” he said.
 
Horan said the Russians had impressed him since the outset of their involvement. They had impressive athletes involved, who were big who could run and were fit and very physical.
 
“They are starting to understand the game and their skill sets and they are not just a defensive team. They can really work off the ball which reflects the time they are putting into their game,” he said.
 
While New Zealand had been dominant there was still much for the team to achieve and they wouldn’t be standing still.
 
“People may think we just do the same old same old, but we change a lot of our tactics and personnel and our player base. My philosophy is you can’t have the same all the time. We’ve got a good core with a young captain and vice-captain and they are getting into a good space about where they want to take this team,” he said.
 
When heading off England in the semifinal, it was Woodman who opened the scoring, followed by Kayla McAlister with Tyla Nathan-Wong converting both tries to secure a 12-0 lead.
 
But Alice Richardson scored for England before half-time and then converted her try.
 
England scored first in the second half through Watmore and McLean’s conversion saw England in front 14-12. However, Goss restored the lead with a try and Michaela Blyde crossed for New Zealand to complete the scoring.
 
In the quarterfinal against Fiji, Woodman opened New Zealand’s scoring with the 80th try of her career. Kelly Brazier followed with the second soon after before Rusila Nagasau scored for Fiji to make the halftime score 12-5.
 
Effective passing to get the ball wide allowed Woodman to work her stuff along the sideline early in the second half. By comparison, the Fijian handling was not as efficient and the game ended with Woodman securing her hat-trick for the game in the 26-5 win.
 
Australia were an early casualty and were only able to contest the plate series where they were beaten 29-10 by the United States.

Canada Sevens 18 and 19 April, Westhills Stadium, Langford, Victoria
New Zealand match results

Final: New Zealand 29 (Woodman 2, McAlister, Honey Hireme, Carla Hohepa tries; Nathan-Wong 2 con) Russia 10 (Ekaterina Kazakova 2 tries).

Semifinal: New Zealand 24 (Woodman, Kayla McAlister, Sarah Goss, Michaela Blyde tries; Nathan-Wong 2 con) England 14 (Alice Richardson, Jo Watmore tries; Richardson con, McLean con). 

Quarterfinal:New Zealand 26 (Portia Woodman 3, Kelly Brazier tries; Tyla Nathan-Wong 3 con) Fiji 5 (Rusila Nagasau try).

Pool play – 18 April 2015
NZ 38 v Fiji 14

NZ 45 v Spain 10

NZ 24 v England 12

Finals – 19 April 2015

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series tournaments

Dubai (won by New Zealand)
November 2014

Sao Paulo, Brazil (won by New Zealand)
7-8 February

Atlanta, USA (won by New Zealand)
14-15 March

Langford, Canada (won by New Zealand)
18-19 April

London, England
15-16 May

Amsterdam, Netherlands
22-23 May

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