The hosts ended the Black Ferns Sevens’ long winning run in Australia to book their place in the HSBC SVNS Perth women’s Cup semi-finals and maintain their hopes of a first home tournament title since 2018.
New Zealand had won 20 matches in a row on Australian soil and wrapped up top spot in Pool C on Saturday morning with a 24-7 defeat of USA.
Australia, by contrast, could not improve on second place in Pool A despite beating Canada 31-14 in their final pool-stage assignment, to set up only their second Cup quarter-final meeting with the Black Ferns Sevens in series history.
And the home side lifted their game to earn a 24-14 win as both teams ended the match with only six players.
“It means a lot to us,” Australia star Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea said. “We knew they were such a strong team, so we used our strength. We have great individual players on and off the field, but yeah, that was head noise.”
Lefau-Fakaosilea and her team-mates will now play USA in the Cup semi-finals on a sold-out day three (kick-off 12:46 local time, GMT+8) after the Women's Eagles Sevens secured an impressive 21-5 defeat of France.
Ireland had been the first team to book their place in the semi-finals as they ended a run of five straight defeats at the quarter-final stage to beat Fiji 14-12.
Great Britain now stand between them and a place in the final after they edged a close rematch with Canada, 7-0.
Ireland end losing quarter-final run
Ireland had not won a Cup quarter-final since Sydney last year and it looked as though a similar script might be playing out at HBF Park as Talei Wilson gave Fiji an early lead.
However, Eve Higgins helped give her side a 7-5 lead less than two minutes before half-time and there was still time for Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe to extend that lead before the interval.
Adi van Buleki found herself in space with two minutes of the second-half remaining to give Fiji hope, but they ultimately paid the price for Ana Maria Naimasi’s earlier missed conversion.
It meant that Beibhinn Parsons was able to confirm victory when she kicked the ball into touch once time had elapsed.
“[It’s] huge,” Higgins said afterwards. “It’s what we’ve been working on, not just this season but last season.”
Great Britain hold on against Canada
Great Britain had won only one of their previous eight Cup quarter-finals but had beaten Canada on Friday and started on the front foot again on Saturday.
But despite dominating possession and territory throughout the 14 minutes, they found it difficult to break down a resolute Canadian defence, that had been boosted by the return of Olivia Apps.
The decisive moment came midway through the first half. Shortly after Krissy Scurfield had been sent to the sin bin, Ellie Boatman went over.
Emma Uren converted to give Great Britain a 7-0 lead but they would have to weather a couple of anxious moments in the second half, not least when Shona Campbell was sent to the sin-bin for pulling Charity Williams’ hair in a tackle.
But as Canada surged towards the line late on, Lauren Torley came up with a pivotal turnover to help her side into the semi-finals.
“That was so hard,” Boatman admitted. “Seven-nil semi-final, we had to dig so deep and correct the [errors] from this morning.”
“We’re going to rest and recover for semi-finals day and we’re so excited!”
Du Toit confirms Australia win
Such has been the dominance of Australia and New Zealand on the circuit, they hadn’t met at this stage of a tournament since the 2015-16 season.
The Black Ferns Sevens were put on the back foot almost immediately as Jorja Miller was shown a red card in the first minute, having made head-on-head contact with Faith Nathan.
Australia took full advantage, opening up a 12-0 lead as Lefau-Fakaosilea created tries for Nathan and Madison Ashby.
However, they lost Maddison Levi – who was making her first appearance in Perth due to suspension – to a red card at the end of the first half and struggled to adapt to playing with six.
Michaela Blyde crossed the whitewash twice early in the second half to give the Black Ferns Sevens a 14-12 lead but that was as good as it got for New Zealand.
Charlotte Caslick put the hosts back in front before Dominique du Toit confirmed a hard-fought 24-14 victory with an impressive line break and finish.
Kelter carries USA past France
France had been perfect up until the quarter-finals, securing top spot in Pool B with a 31-12 defeat of Fiji in the opening session of day two.
They struck first in their quarter-final against USA, too as Carla Neisen went over within the opening two minutes.
But USA – who won only one match during the pool stage – dug in and found themselves ahead before half-time as Sammy Sullivan sprinted away to score before Alev Kelter added an impressive second.
With less than five minutes to play, Kelter touched down for a second time to put USA more than two converted tries in front and ultimately that was enough to secure a second successive semi-final spot.
“We just wanted to lay brick by brick, this is for everyone back home and our coaches,” Kelter said. “We just wanted to follow our words with actions and that game showed that.”
Day three will kick off at 10:45 local time with the 11th-place play-off between Spain, beaten 12-7 by South Africa in the ninth-place semi-finals, and Japan – who lost narrowly to Brazil, 21-17.
South Africa will then take on Brazil in the ninth-place play-off before the Cup semi-finals get underway at 12:22 local time.