NZ Women's Sevens claim last-gasp win in Dubai to break Aussie hearts

by Staff Writer

The Qantas Australian Women's Sevens team has fallen agonisingly short of the Dubai Sevens title after New Zealand won the Cup Final at The 7evens Stadium with the last play of the game.

Two tries from Emma Tonegato - the second a sensational move that involved virtually every Australian player on the pitch - and one from Amy Turner had given the Women in gold a 17 point half-time lead.

New Zealand captain Sarah Goss narrowed the advantage right at the start of the second half before Tyla Nathan-Wong put last year's World Series winners within three points. Skipper Goss crossed over after the siren to claim the unlikeliest of wins.

Women's Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh was delighted with his side's endeavours: "I am incredibly proud of the efforts the players have put in - not only over this past two days - but over the pre-season with their hard work and tenacity.

"There is nothing between us and New Zealand at the moment... though personally, I thought we were the best team in Dubai. However, you can never, ever write New Zealand off no matter what level of Rugby it is and the Cup Final was a fantastic game - an incredible advert for Women's Rugby."

After the Cup Final, Australia's Alicia Quirk was announced as the Dubai Sevens Player of the Tournament for a series of outstanding displays over the two days of competition.

Of the 22-year-old from Wagga Wagga, Walsh added: "Alicia is the heart and soul of this team - she is all about the team and not the individual.

"She has an incredible work ethic who is always looking to improve her game and is one of the leaders of the team now - very opinionated and a very intelligent player. For me she was the deserved recipient of this award."

Australia secured its spot in the Cup Final after two scintillating performances in their Cup Quarter-Final against Fiji (47-0) and Canada (29-7). Against Canada in the Semi's, an Alicia Quirk try in the opening minute set the tone for a flawless first half, with Emma Tonegato and Emilee Cherry also crossing over to give the Aussies a 17-point advantage at the break. As expected, Canada started the second half quickly and despite cutting the margain, Tonegato again and then Turner put the tie beyond doubt.

Earlier, a brace of tries from Charlotte Caslick and Emilee Cherry helped Australia on their way to a thumping victory over a stunned Fiji side. Tiana Penitani, Alicia Quirk and Amy Turner scored the other five-pointers in the seven-try romp.

Elsewhere, Canada finished third after beating France in golden point extra-time while England saw off the challenge of Fiji - once again in golden point - to pick up the Plate trophy and finish fifth.

The second round of the 2014/15 World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series heads to Sao Paulo on weekend 7/8 February where the Aussies will be looking to defend their title.

Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens results in Dubai, UAE, 4-6 December:

Australia 36-0 South Africa, Pool B

Australia 24-10 France, Pool B

Australia 39-0 Spain, Pool B

Australia 47-0 Fiji, Cup Quarter-Final

Australia 29-7 Canada, Cup Semi-Final

Australia 17-19 New Zealand, Cup Final

Final placings for the Dubai Sevens and current World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series standings (top 6):1. New Zealand (20 World Series points), 2. Australia (18 points), 3. Canada (16 points), 4. France (14 points), 5. England (12 points), 6. Fiji (10 points)

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