Black Ferns Sevens hit top gear on day one in Vancouver

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The Black Ferns Sevens cruised into the cup quarter-finals with a fixture to spare. They scored 11 tries in convincingly disposing of Brazil 40-7 and South Africa 35-5. 

The All Blacks Sevens face an anxious wait to determine their top eight fate. Great Britain tops Pool C with two wins but all four sides can still qualify for the quarters.

After losing 21-12 to South Africa, New Zealand railed bravely to beat Ireland 19-14. 

South Africa was beaten 17-12 by Great Britain who narrowly accounted for Ireland 17-14.

New Zealand will almost certainly qualify if they beat Great Britain at 9:43 am tomorrow. If Ireland beat South Africa by more than ten points then it might be time to reach for the calculators.

Black Ferns Sevens

The Black Ferns Sevens only scored 16 tries at the Perth Sevens, their lowest-ever total in an SVNS tournament.

The Olympic champions were in ominous form today achieving resounding victories over Brazil 40-7 and South Africa 35-5. The Black Ferns Sevens were slick from the outset against Brazil racing to a 35-0 lead by halftime. 

South Africa proved to be more stubborn opponents, holding the Black Ferns to 7-5 at halftime despite losing Shona Lee-Weston to a yellow card. Nadine Ross scored a brilliant try claiming the bounce from a chip and chase. 

In the second half, South Africa wilted as New Zealand increased their speed, precision, and intensity. 

Shiray Kaka made a welcome return with three tries; two against Brazil and one against South Africa. Her first try against Brazil involved a dummy to a defender on her right and a blistering burst of speed. Her second was a sprint from past halfway. Early in the second half against South Africa, she hit a hole at halfway and wouldn’t be caught. It was a blow that crushed South African resistance; the Black Ferns Sevens scored the next 21 points unanswered. 

Portia Woodman-Wickliffe and Michaela Blyde were full of running. Blyde scored two tries in each game, including two from past halfway. Woodman-Wickliffe sometimes resembled a bulldozer, leaving a trail of destruction in her three tries. 

Jazmin Felix-Hotham shifted into the forwards and tackled aggressively. She scored the last try against South Africa with a rapid step and dash. The only blemish was the ruling out of Stacey Waaka with a calf injury. Kelsey Teneti has replaced her.

Series leaders Australia won both their opening-day matches but were less convincing than the Black Ferns. Perth champions Ireland were remarkably beaten by Brazil 26-12.

All Blacks Sevens

Dubai winners South Africa proved too strong for the All Blacks Sevens in the opening group match winning 21-12 for their 38th victory in 101 outings against New Zealand. 

Swarming defense proved tricky for the All Blacks Sevens to untangle. They were hurried into uncharacteristic mistakes and exposed in retreat.

In the opening minute, South Africa pushed New Zealand back towards their in-goal area. Joe Webber cleared past halfway where it was retrieved by new South African captain Selyvin Davis. Davis kicked the ball back. The difference was the All Blacks Sevens had no sweeper behind their defensive wall and Davis won the race for the loose possession. 

The All Blacks Sevens responded strongly with robust tackling to force South Africa inside their 22. A monster push at the scrum by New Zealand yielded a tighthead and Che Clark scored from a Joe Webber pass.

Davis had a second with a lightning-quick dummy which fooled two defenders. He has scored 80 tries on the circuit.

Any chance of a Kiwi resurgence was quashed when rookie Tristan Leyds pushed past some flimsy tacking and sprinted 60 metres; a brave chase by Akuila Rokolisoa in vain.

Clark was consistently good throughout the day. He attracted defenders and offloaded regularly and accurately. He refused to surrender meekly in a lost cause against the Springboks barreling through congestion to dash 40 metres for a second close to fulltime.

The Irish match was a scrap. An error-ridden first spell was enlivened by a Sam Dickson turnover that led to a Joe Webber try.

Aukila Rokolisoa was strangely subdued against South Africa. He dictated the middle of the park against Ireland and used guile and strength to score a second.

Down 14-0 things went from bad to worse for Ireland when captain Harry McNulty was yellow-carded.

New Zealand conceded an unlucky try to start the second half. A shallow kick-off took a wicked deflection that was seized upon by Niall Comerford.

Had Ireland’s handling been better they might have tied the scores. Instead, it was fresh legs that settled the contest. Tepaea Cook-Savage was strong and energetic. He slipped through with 90 seconds left. Ireland scored a consolation try with the last play.   

The All Blacks Sevens have had an unsettled preparation for the tournament. Head coach Tomasi Cama is absent this weekend so assistant coach Euan Mackintosh takes the reins. From Inverness, Scotland, Mackintosh has been involved with the All Blacks Sevens since 2022. He previously coached China and Bay of Plenty.  

French fifteens captain and 2021 World Rugby Player of the Year Antoine Dupont made his eagerly anticipated debut for France who won their opening two games. Series leader Argentina was also unblemished on the opening day.

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