Tough day for Black Ferns Sevens

Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Lynn McConnell     20 Apr 2019     Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

Russia needed to score 44 points to deny New Zealand their place in the quarterfinals but had to settle for a 28-21 win in their last game against Japan which saw New Zealand through.


Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini said the day had been one the side would love to forget but they finished by knowing they will meet the United States in their quarterfinal. The Americans had a 43-7 win over England, a 31-5 win over Fiji and a 15-12 win over Ireland.

Hirini said the loss to France was tough. They conceded a lot of ball to the French and it was a repeat of the easy turnovers they had given Russia earlier.

"It's not like us. We normally pride ourselves on our patience and possession of the ball and we just didn't do that today. We won't blame anyone other than our own team performance and we know we've got a lot to do to work on but we know we're still in the quarterfinal," she said.

The side would be looking to absorb the lessons of the day.

"But if we dwell on that then it will come back and harm us tomorrow, " she said.

France scored first after a strong run down the flank by Shannon Izar. While tackled by Niall Williams, France did better in recycling the ball and Seraphine Okemba was able to get across. It could have been worse moments later when Okemba got through but wasn't able to give the ball cleanly to Fanny Horta and the chance went begging.

However, they worked a penalty chance well when Izar passed out to Anne-Cecile Ciofani, who had several attempts to catch the ball before getting the try. That was backed up by more magic from Izar and Ciofani, the latter scoring her second.

Down 0-19, New Zealand finally got on the board when Chey Robins-Reti rounded Joanna Grisez to score. Izar scored another and the win was finished by Chloe Pelle. The win was France's first in 22 games against New Zealand.

They equalled the New Zealand record of 37 wins but were unable to break when held to a 17-17 draw by Russia.

New Zealand started with a 43-0 win over Japan, a game notable for 18-year-old debut player Dhys Faleafaga scoring 80 seconds into her opening game when with a powerful fend to break through. That was followed by Stacey Waaka scoring on the opposite wing.
Waaka scored a second from a breakdown when a superb pass on the inside from Niall Williams gave her the space to run away. Ruby Tui got a good ball to Chey Robins-Reti and she gave Faleafaga the ball for her second try.

Japan had a chance only to lose the ball and New Zealand quickly moved the ball and Hirini's pass allowed Williams to cruise through for 50m to score. Waaka then added another with the final try coming after good work by Shakira Baker to provide Tenika Willison her chance.

Against Russia, New Zealand were frustrated by missed chances early on and after four unforced errors it was Russia who scored through Baizat Khamidova. Williams took a gap and when halted the play developed for Baker to score. Khamidova took a heavy knock early in the game but made a strong run to score for Russia but the scores were levelled when Alena Saili put her speed to use to get around Doria Noristsana to score.

Elena Zdrokova beat two tackles to score a third for Russia but a run by Tui saw her get the pass infield for Tyla Nathan-Wong to score and land the vital conversion to draw the game.

Nathan-Wong said the game had been intense and the Black Ferns had the ball for long periods of time in the first half but they couldn't score tries.

"In some ways we were almost our own worst enemies, simple knock-ons, passes not going to hand. At the end of the day it's a draw, not a loss…but credit to Russia too, they played really well," she said.