Sarah Goss & NZ7s upset by Russia
It was a day of upsets as the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series got under way in Dubai, and New Zealand weren't immune.
In their opening match of the new season New Zealand were thrashed 33-7 by a very good Russian team, but they recovered to win their next two pool matches against Brazil and France to qualify for the quarterfinals on Friday.
Because of their second place finish in pool A, New Zealand now face Australia in the Dubai Sevens quarterfinals, meaning one of the giants will be leaving the Middle East with work to do in the world series race.
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It would be nice to suggest New Zealand were unlucky to lose their pool decider against Russia, but the truth is the rugged Europeans produced one of their finest performances and deserved their win.
The Russians often impress in patches, but on Thursday they took full control of the match and never let off.
By halftime it was 19-0 to the Russians, and although Gayle Broughton did strike back first after the break, Russia regained control to outscore the world series champions five tries to one.
It certainly wasn't the way coach Sean Horan will have planned to launch the new series, but it could be just the wake up call they needed heading into finals day.
The added urgency was there for all to see in their second game, defeating Brazil 36-5 as both Kelly Brazier and Portia Woodman scored first half doubles to ease Kiwi nerves.
Shiray Tane and Michaela Blyde added to the score sheet after the break as Brazil were outclassed, and New Zealand showed their form in the loss to Russia wasn't their new normal.
In their final pool match New Zealand edged out France 21-12.
Woodman scored her third try of the tournament within moments of the kickoff, before Tyla Nathan-Wong and Brazier added to the scoring.
Fiji were the surprise package on the opening day, stunning both Canada and the United States to finish top of pool B, while Ireland also provided an upset in the pool by tipping over the United States.
Fiji will face France in the quarterfinals on Friday, while Russia plays Spain and England take on Canada.