Goss and NZ7s downed by Australia
After losing to hosts USA in the final match of day one, New Zealand bounced back on day two with clinical wins over France and England before falling short to Australia in the Atlanta Sevens final.
With only nine fresh players to choose from on day two, New Zealand conceded a 19-0 lead to Australia before storming back into the game. After struggling to match Australia’s intensity in the opening stages, New Zealand found a way back into the game when Selica Winiata crossed after a period of prolonged attack to make it 19-7 at the break.
Australia were a constant threat at the breakdown and a crucial turnover lead to a try down the short-side to give Australia a commanding 24-7 lead. Returning from injury, Portia Woodman showed her class by palming off two Australian defenders to score a brilliant solo try to give New Zealand a sniff. Australia defended stoutly in the closing stages before Winiata crossed for her second at the buzzer to round out the match 24-19.
The win is Australia's third straight victory in the series and puts the team out to 60 points on the World Series ladder, 14 points clear of second placed New Zealand with just two rounds remaining. Canada lies third four points adrift of New Zealand.
New Zealand Coach Sean Horan was impressed by the resilience of his young side to come close on day two.
“We only had nine players available today so had to dig deep. We had two good wins over France and England but just allowed Australia to open up a 19-0 lead,” Horan said.
“There was seven girls out of the 14 playing in their first final today. Then three new caps playing their first ever international tournament. They played a lot of game time, so the experience from this weekend will be invaluable.”
Although Australia have now won three straight tournaments, Horan doesn’t believe the team in green and gold is unbeatable.
“England stopped Australia on day one so they are not untouchable. We learnt a lot tonight for a young team. I’m stoked with the heart the team showed. We handed them 19 points on a plate but were still about a minute away from winning. We have to be smarter and more settled and take our opportunities when they come.”
With the next tournament beginning in Langford next weekend, Horan says there is plenty to do but the goal for the team has not changed.
“There are always things to work on. Australia are now 14 points ahead of us on the ladder. They are close to having the series in the bag, but we keep saying it’s all about three days in August, so that’s what our goal is.
“We gutsed it out this weekend and just came up short - but we learn from it.”
The next tournament takes place in Langford, Canada, on April 16-17.
Source: Mike Jaspers, NZ Rugby