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Black Ferns Sevens storm into World Cup semifinals

Sean Willis

Andy Burt     21 Jul 2018     Sean Willis

The women’s side of the draw started off as a round of 16, with every game being a knockout. Knowing they couldn’t afford any slip-ups from the opening game, the Black Ferns Sevens were ruthless in dispatching Mexico 57-0 to open their campaign at AT&T Park. 

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There were ominous signs for Mexico from the first minute when speedster Michaela Blyde made a searing break down one wing before the ball was swung back to the other side of the field where Portia Woodman charged over the line.

That was just the start of a try-scoring clinic from New Zealand as Blyde grabbed a double, captain Sarah Goss picked up a hat-trick and Woodman completed a brace as the Black Ferns Sevens seemed to score at will.

One of the most impressive aspects of the nine-try victory was the re-start area where Tyla Nathan-Wong got the ball to hang high from every kick off and the New Zealand chasers leapt high to repeatedly upset Mexico’s ball.



While the Black Ferns Sevens avoided a shock early exit through their win over Mexico, not everyone was so lucky.

The biggest casualty was England who were stunned 19-14 by Ireland. Highly regarded Fiji were also knocked out of contention by Spain who underlined their rapid improvement with a 19-12 win in the round of 16.

The Black Ferns Sevens faced Ireland in a crunch quarterfinal in front of a humming crowd at AT&T Stadium.

A much-tougher encounter was expected against Ireland but the Black Ferns Sevens simply picked up where they left off against Mexico with a thumping 45-0 victory.

Ireland just couldn’t get their hands on the ball as the Black Ferns Sevens superior ball control and ability in the air shut them out of the game.
Michaela Blyde followed in the footsteps of captain Sarah Goss from the opening game by picking up a superb hat-trick while Portia Woodman added two tries to take her total tally at Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments to a record 16 after scoring 12 tries in Russia in 2013.

While Blyde and Woodman took most of the glory through their try-scoring feats, Sarah Goss, Niall Williams and Gayle Broughton were all equally instrumental with their high work rate, tireless defence and strong ball-carrying.

History beckons on day two in San Francisco with the Black Ferns Sevens gunning to become the first team to ever win back-to-back Sevens Rugby World Cup titles. 

First they will have to overcome hometown favourites USA in a crunch semifinal. If they can do that, a spot in the final awaits against either France or Australia who clash in the other semifinal.

Tune into TVNZ Duke at 7.04am (NZT) on Sunday to see the Black Ferns take on USA in a crunch semifinal. Click here for the full fixtures

RESULTS:

Game one: Black Ferns Sevens 57 (Sarah Goss 3, Michaela Blyde 2, Portia Woodman 2, Kelly Brazier, Stacey Waaka tries, Tyla Nathan-Wong 6 con) Mexico 0

Quarterfinal: Black Ferns Sevens 45 (Michaela Blyde 3, Portia Woodman 2, Niall Williams, Stacey Waaka tries, Tyla Nathan-Wong 5 con) Ireland 0