Historic Kitakyushu crown for Black Ferns Sevens

Getty Images     23 Apr 2017     Getty Images

It looked like the Black Ferns Sevens title hopes had slipped away when Canada grabbed a 14-7 lead with two minutes to play. But the Black Ferns Sevens crossed for two desperate tries to Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde to break Canadian hearts and claim their second straight tournament title. 


Canada dominated the opening half by starving New Zealand of possession and running up fast on defence. The pressure finally told when Hannah Darling crossed out wide to give Canada a 7-0 lead. Despite having minimal possession, the Black Ferns Sevens cashed in on their only scoring opportunity in the first half. Niall Williams pounced on a loose ball in the midfield to run away for her fifth try of the tournament.

The Black Ferns Sevens would have been happy with the 7-7 halftime margin considering the lack of territory and possession they had in the opening seven minutes.

But the second half wasn’t much different to the first as Canada showed great ball control to dominate possession. After four minutes of play in the second half, the Black Ferns Sevens defence finally opened up as Canada veteran Jen Kish scored to gain the 14-7 advantage.

Alan Bunting’s side had to answer back quickly and did so when speedster Portia Woodman tore down the sideline to make it 14-12 with one minute to play. Needing a slice of luck, they got it when Canada knocked the ball from the kick off to gain possession with time up on the clock. After spreading the Canadian defence both sides of the field, Blyde had too much pace as she went over in the corner to secure the stunning victory.

Portia Woodman said: “As the tournament progressed we learned to compose ourselves and play to our strengths. In the past we have been guilty of trying too many things.”
After going unbeaten on day one, New Zealand started day two in positive fashion with a 21-5 win over England in the Cup quarterfinal. Niall Williams continued her impressive tournament with her fourth try of the weekend while the prolific pair of Michaela Blyde and Portia Woodman also crossed for tries. 

The win set up a semifinal showdown with Fiji who qualified for the final four for the first time in their history with a 26-19 win over USA.

New Zealand’s defence had been tight all tournament and Fiji simply couldn’t find a way through as the Black Ferns Sevens wrapped up a 21-0 lead. Kelly Brazier opened the scoring for the Black Ferns Sevens before Portia Woodman crossed for a double to bring up 700 career points on the sevens circuit.

It was heartbreak in the bronze medal match for Fiji. Leading Olympic Champions Australia 17-7 with two minutes to play, Australia crossed for two late tries to snatch a dramatic 19-17 win.

New Zealand has now moved 10 points clear of Australia at the top of the series standings with two tournaments remaining. The next tournament is held in Langford, Canada on 27-28 May.