A stirring second half fightback proved in vain as the Qantas Australian Women's Sevens team lost narrowly to New Zealand (17-10) in the Cup Final at the Brazil Sevens in Sao Paulo this morning.
Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "In my opinion, it's another final that got away from us. We had our chances and we can only learn from these losses. Despite I think being the better team, we did not get the result we deserved.
"I am very proud of the girls after their performances today, particularly a gutsy and professional Quarter-Final and Semi-Final efforts. For us, it's back to training when we return to prepare our assault on Atlanta."
In yet another Cup Final between Australia and New Zealand, it was the Kiwis that stole the march on their trans-Tasman rivals in a tight opening stanza when Charlotte Scanlan and Portia Woodman crossed over to open up a 10-0 lead at the break. However, the Aussies halved the arrears midway through the second half when Charlotte Caslick found some space on the left to cross over. A deft ball from Caslick set Emilee Cherry clear two minutes later and in an instant the scores were level. However, with just 90 seconds left on the clock Woodman broke clear on the left and raced half the length of the field to touch down in the corner and break Australian hearts.
Australia reached the Cup Final after squeezing past a brave Canadian outfit (12-7) in a nail-biter with no quarter given. After a series of penalties and a yellow card apiece for both teams, Sharni Williams broke the Canadian shackles to set Chloe Dalton free to score. That's how it stayed until two minutes left in the match when Ghislaine Landry eluded the Australian defence to touch down - a try duly converted by Ashley Steacy to give Canada a two point lead. However, after a patient passage of play in the final minute, the Canadian defence found themselves too high up on the pitch to leave an unmarked Evania Pelite to gallop home unopposed from the halfway line. Sharni Williams knocked over the extras to give Walsh's side a hard-earned win - their fourth straight win over Canada at the Semi-Final stage in the past four tournaments.
Earlier in the day, Australia moved safely into the Cup Semi-Finals after seeing off the challenge of a determined England side (29-10). In a clash of styles, Sharni Williams scored the opening try after a period of patient play in the middle of the park from the Aussies before Michaela Staniford reduced the deficit for England. Charlotte Caslick spotted the smallest of gaps to set Emilee Cherry free to give Australia a 7-point lead at the break. It was all one-way traffic in the second half however, as Caslick, Shannon Parry and finally Evania Pelite on the full-time siren all scored to confirm the win. Staniford again crashed over for England but it was not enough for the XVs Women's Rugby World Cup winners.
Elsewhere, Canada won the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off after beating France, and England saw off the challenge of the USA to finish fifth.
With two legs of the six round series gone, Australia sit second in the 2014/15 World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series standings - with the top four securing automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The next round of the World Series heads to Atlanta, USA on the weekend of 14-15 March.
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens results in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 8-9 February:
Australia 40-0 Brazil, Pool B
Australia 38-7 China, Pool B
Australia 38-7 Fiji, Pool B
Australia 29-10 England, Cup Quarter-Final
Australia 12-7 Canada, Cup Semi-Final
Australia 10-17 New Zealand, Cup Final
Final placings for the Brazil Sevens (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. USA (10 points)
Current standings in the 2014/15 World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series (top 6): 1. New Zealand (40 World Series points), 2. Australia (36 points), 3. Canada (32 points), 4. France (28 points), 5. England (24 points), 6. USA (18 points)