Australia's men and women lose HK Sevens semis to NZ

Sun, Apr 7, 2024, 7:03 AM
AAP
by AAP
Nathan Lawson draws first blood in the quarter-final of SVNS Hong Kong 2024

Series leaders Australia have suffered a blow in their women's world sevens title battle with New Zealand, losing a thrilling Hong Kong semi-final to their trans-Tasman rivals 28-14.

Both teams went into Sunday's match with two tournament wins to their credit from five events, but New Zealand, winners of the previous two events, proved too classy late as they pulled away from the 14-14 halftime scoreline.

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Legendary winger Portia Woodman-Wickliffe scored a crucial late try for the Kiwis as they set up a final clash with the United States, who overcame France 19-5 in the other semi.

Errors by the Australians proved costly in the second half, and Kiwi playmaker Jorja Millar ended any hopes of an Australian fightback as she scored in the dying seconds.

Australia had an edge in the first half after star winger Maddison Levi landed a heavy tackle on Woodman-Wickliffe then raced away with the spilled ball to score.  

New Zealand answered through Michaela Blyde before skipper Charlotte Caslick backed up to break from halfway and put Australia back in front 14-7.

But New Zealand again had an answer, with captain Risi Pouri-Lane making a brilliant break from halfway the level the scores going into the break.

Australia's men's team also lost their semi-final to New Zealand, going down to the defending Kong Kong champions 24-7.

The Kiwis ran in two tries in each half while Australia struggled to crack a defence that conceded only four tries on the way to the semi.

Speedster Maurice Longbottom bagged Australia's only try, using sheer pace after a goal-line scrum to briefly put Australia ahead 7-5 with the conversion.

Longtime Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper debuted in sevens for Australia at the tournament, but the 32-year-old 125-Test veteran remained on the bench in the semi.

Chasing a 13th Hong Kong title, the Kiwis set up a final against France, who downed Ireland in the other semi.

They were also in position to climb past fifth-placed Australia on the world series standings after an unusually quiet season.  

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