Paris-bound Black Ferns Sevens claim HSBC Canada Sevens women's title
New Zealand lifted the women's HSBC Canada Sevens title after beating Australia 19-12 in a hard-fought encounter at Vancouver's BC Place. The victory also confirmed their place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
New Zealand were all smiles after beating Australia in the HSBC Canada Sevens final in Vancouver, while USA raced to a win over France in the third-place play-off.
Victorious Black Ferns’ coach Cory Sweeney said: “We knew Australia were going to be tough tonight … We knew they would come out firing, they’ve had a really good tournament, so the girls were up for it.”
He admitted that there had been a wobble or two on the way: “Day two, we probably had a couple of lapses - a great game against Canada at home, but to finish the way we did tonight, we’re over the moon.”
Grand Final: Black Ferns extend winning run with Canada crown
New Zealand lifted the HSBC Canada Sevens title with a 19-12 win over arch-rivals Australia at BC Place, which also guarantees them a top-four finish on the Series standings and automatic qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
PLOT TWIST AFTER PLOT TWIST 👀— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) March 6, 2023
What a match we have on our hands in Vancouver!#HSBC7s | #Canada7s pic.twitter.com/cdja6yZZxl
It was the Black Ferns' 24th win in a row. Their last defeat came in the first round in Dubai.
A hard-fought encounter was to be expected in a final between two sides at the top of the rankings, who have met in 21 grand finals to date. Vancouver wasn't disappointed.
Player of the final Sarah Hirini opened the scoring after a long period of intense Black Ferns' pressure. She then turned provider for Stacey Waaka just before half-time whistle, after Australia's Madison Ashby had levelled the scores.
Jorja Miller extended New Zealand's lead early in the second half, but Charlotte Caslick pulled Australia back to within seven, with plenty of time still on the clock.
Bronze final: USA leave France standing
USA got off to a flying start against France, a battle between third and fourth in the sevens rankings, racing to a 12-0 lead inside five minutes, via Naya Tapper and Sammy Sullivan before their opponents could mount a meaningful attack.
Carla Neisen gave France hope with a try under beside the posts midway through the second period - but Nicole Heavirland broke clear to decide the match, and third place, 19-17.
Semi-finals: Australia and New Zealand cruise
The prolific Maddison Levi scored her 10th, 11th and 12th tries of the weekend - reaching 44 for the season - and Dominique du Toit added another two as Australia cruised past USA to win 38-0, ensuring their place in the final and enjoying a measure of revenge after defeat in Hamilton.
Three New Zealand tries in the first half ended any hopes that France had of reaching the final. Three more in the second period sealed the deal as the Black Ferns booked a second consecutive final appearance with a 36-7 victory. Smiling assassin Waaka scored in each period.
Fiji teenager Qoro lights up finals day early
A 50th international sevens try was not enough for Great Britain who lost 28-19 to Fiji in the fifth-place semi-final. Eighteen-year-old wing Meredani Qoro twice put her high school sprinting skills to work to confirm the win and set up a match against Canada - who had got the home crowd on their feet with a 24-12 win over Ireland, courtesy of a double from Fancy Bermudez.
Local favourites Bianca Farella, Olivia Apps and Keyara Wardley later had the Vancouver crowd jumping again, as they all touched down in an entertaining end-to-end fifth place final against Fiji - but Reapi Uluinisau’s late lung-busting score meant the Pacific Island side finished on the front foot, winning 22-17.
Brazil and Japan finish strong
Earlier, tournament invitees Colombia had given neighbours Brazil a scare, racing into a 12-0 first-half lead in the opening match, thanks to two tries from Daniele Alzate. But Gabriela Lima got Brazil’s game going just before the break, and scored their fourth try on the final hooter - as they came back to win 26-12 and claim 11th place.
Captain Yume Hirano scored the first and made the last as Japan came from behind to beat Spain 17-10 to finish ninth - a victory built on determined and organised defence.
Great Britain, meanwhile, claimed seventh place with a comfortable 25-5 win over Ireland, with Jasmine Joyce scoring her fifth try of the tournament.
Reapi Ulunisau was incredible in Vancouver#ImpactPlayer | @DHLRugby | #Canada7s pic.twitter.com/yvQlQFVXZY— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) March 6, 2023
DHL Impact Player: Reapi Ulunisau
With 10 tackles, nine breaks, 11 offloads, and 27 carries in another all-action sevens weekend, Fiji's Reapi Ulunisau was undeniably the DHL Impact Player of the tournament in Canada. She's also the player making the biggest impact across the whole series, some 25 points ahead of nearest rival, Australia's Charlotte Caslick.
HSBC Player of the Final: Sarah Hirini
The experienced Hirini scored one try and made another, and was a calm and steady influence on her team-mates in the heat of a difficult and hard-fought final against arch-rivals Australia.