Aussies get silver as Black Magic cast their spell

by Jill Scanlon

Australia has finished second in the Clermont Sevens tournament, after going down to New Zealand in the Cup Final 22-7.

The result means the Aussies have finished the 2016-17 HSBC Sevens World Series in second position in the overall standings behind trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and ahead of Canada.

The Clermont final was the third time this series New Zealand and Australia have met in the Final and for the third time the Black Ferns have taken the main prize.

The Kiwis bolted out of the gate with Ruby Tui posting an early try.

Co-captain Shannon Parry got Australia on the scoreboard soon after and it looked like the match was going to be a tug of war for the duration.

But the scales began to tip when small errors from the Aussies were exploited fully.

Niall Williams ran in her third try for the weekend just before the break giving New Zealand a 12-7 lead at half-time.

The Kiwis began the second half where the first finished with Michaela Blyde scoring an early try – taking her Series tally to an incredible total of 40 tries.

The Aussies tackled hard in the contest but succumbed to too many turnovers at the hands of the women in black, having trouble controlling possession.

When Shakira Baker ran down the wing to dive into the corner for her first, the Aussies’ fate was sealed.

Australia played one of the best weekends of rugby it has all Series with five good victories and strong performances from some of the experienced core in the ranks.

 

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Coach Tim Walsh is disappointed not to have jumped that final hurdle but believes in both the tournament and the season overall there is plenty to be positive about.

"I thought the first two matches were the best we performed all season," he said.

"We showed some really good character, especially in that game against Canada, to come from behind and hold that composure and be ruthless and resilient."


While Walsh acknowledges the high standard set by the Kiwis, he is looking ahead to a big 2018 Sevens campaign.

"New Zealand have had an exceptional year and they finished it well," he said.

"It certainly gives us motivation and desire to come back next year in what is a very big year with the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup."

Much of Walsh's enthusiasm for the future revolves around the young talent he has discovered this past year.

"There are some good young players coming through which is great and bodes well for the future of Australian Women's rugby, so we've got make sure we stay at the top and win those big events."

 

OTHER RESULTS

Russia defeated Ireland 19-14 in the playoff for seventh place while Fiji racked up its fourth 5th place finish of the season after defeating the USA 24-19.

 

FINALS

Cup Final: New Zealand def Australia 22-7

 

Bronze Medal: Canada def France 36-7

Despite being encouraged by a vocal home crowd, France were no match for a determined Canada which won the Bronze medal match 36-7 finishing third for the tournament and third for the 2016-2017 Series overall.

The French had no answer for the pace of both Julia Greenshields and Charity Williams who ran to the line every time they found space with Williams putting in four tries for the match.

 

Trophy final: Spain def Japan 15-14

Despite a strong comeback by Japan in the final minute of the game, Spain held fast in defence to finish the Series with some silverware.

 

This was Spain’s second consecutive Trophy Final having gone down to Fiji in Langford, showing impressive development in their squad.

 

Series Standings

With the final tournament run and won, the Championship Title has been presented to New Zealand with a total of 116 points for the season – 16 points in front of Australia (100) which secured second place this weekend ahead of Canada (98).

With the exception of the Langford Sevens tournament, Fiji’s consistency this season has been its strength and it has finished in fourth place in the overall standings – its best finish on the World Series.

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