New Zealand successfully defended their Amsterdam Sevens and IRB Women’s Sevens World Series titles after beating Australia 29-12 in a thrilling final at the National Rugby Centre.

Australia scored first through Emilee Cherry but the world champions fought back with Kayla McAlister and Carla Hohepa touching down twice after Shiray Tane had scored New Zealand’s first try.

The victory saw New Zealand finish four points clear of Australia in the final Series standings after winning three of the five rounds in Atlanta, Guangzhou and Amsterdam. Canada finished third ahead of England, beating the same side 10-0 in the third place play-off here.

New Zealand had arrived in Amsterdam with a two-point lead in the standings over Australia and a significantly better point differential, meaning the title was theirs regardless of the outcome of the final – unless they lost by 74 points.

Australia, though, can be proud of a remarkable season which saw them record first victories on the World Series in Dubai and Sao Paulo and reach four of the five Cup finals.

There was some consolation for them with Emilee Cherry finishing the year as top try (33) and point scorer (195) and also being named IRB Women’s Sevens Player of the Year 2014.

Australia booked their place with a 17-0 victory over Canada with Cherry in unstoppable form, scoring two of her side’s three tries. New Zealand conceded two early tries in their semi-final with England but hit back through Hohepa (2), Tane and Kelly Brazier to win 26-10.

Earlier in the quarter-finals Australia had overcome Brazil 33-0, Canada won the North American battle with USA 28-19, England edged European rivals France 7-0 and New Zealand beat Russia 36-0.

Eagles soar to Plate success

The USA Women’s Sevens Eagles finished the season strongly with success in the Plate following a 27-12 defeat of Russia with Lauren Doyle scoring two of her side’s five tries in the final.

Braces from Hannah Lopez and Victoria Folayan had earlier seen the overpower Brazil 34-0, while Russia ran out 28-0 winners over France in the other semi-final with Ekaterina Kazakova and Nadezda Kudinova both touching down twice.

France bounced back from that disappointment to beat Brazil 14-5 to finish seventh in Amsterdam.

Home delight in the Bowl

Chants of “Holland, Holland” ran out around the National Rugby Centre after two tries from Kelly van Harskamp saw the hosts beat South Africa 29-7 in the Bowl final. Anne Hielckert, Joyce van Altena and Tessa Veldhuis also touched down to huge cheers.

The Netherlands had earlier got the crowd on their feet with a first win of the tournament, van Harskamp scoring two tries in a 24-0 victory over Ireland. South Africa also tasted victory for the first time, two tries from Zenay Jordaan inspiring the Women’s Springboks to a 26-12 win over core team Spain. 

First win for Ireland

Nicole Caughey’s conversion proved the difference as Ireland edged a tight battle with Spain 7-5 to win the 11th place play-off at the National Rugby Centre.