5 Dec 2015

NZ women's sevens dumped out in quarter-finals

8:50 am on 5 December 2015

The New Zealand women's sevens team have won the plate competition at the Dubai leg of the World Series after being beaten in Cup quarter-finals by Australia.

New Zealand's Michaela Blyde is tackled by two Russian opponents.

New Zealand's Michaela Blyde is tackled. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The defending Dubai and world series champions blew a 12 point lead to lose 15-12 to eventual Dubai winners Australia in last night's last eight clash.

New Zealand had a prime opportunity to snatch victory in the dying stages of the game, but failed to secure the winning try.

Australia beat Russia 31-12 in the Cup final.

New Zealand beat Canada 24-19 in the Plate final.

The defending champion New Zealanders now lie fifth in the overall standings after the first round of the world series.

Coach Sean Horan said New Zealand had learned some good lessons in the Australian loss and that was borne out in the way they picked themselves up against a good Fijian side who they beat 33-12 in the Plate semi-final, and Canada, who they defeated in extra time.

"Canada are a big side and they live off a strong foundation around their set piece and they hold onto the ball very well. They put us under pressure in our own half, they got some good ball and they made us pay with unforced errors. So it was just about us being a bit more composed and a bit more patient with the ball in the second half.

"We proved that and had 17 unanswered points and then let in a soft try and we went to extra time and were good enough to be able to score straight away so that was pleasing," he said.

Horan said the Australian game had shown how close the side was to the best team.

"It was a good game for us, we are up with them, that's for sure. We're a young side, experience-wise, with some new girls turning up and getting a lot more game time than they have before.

"We shot off to a 12-0 lead which was really positive. We allowed them to come back as a result of our error rate which gave them more possession which they had been working extremely hard to get.

"We fell short in the last few minutes where we had some true opportunities which we missed which was more disappointing than the actual loss. We felt we didn't get beaten by Australia we gave it to them," he said.

Horan said the first day loss to Russia had been a lesson for all the teams who had already qualified for the Olympic Games.

Russia were still chasing qualification and as had happened last year when New Zealand played their last tournament in the series and had qualified, they drifted off sub-consciously due to worrying more about the horizon than the now.

"I think that is a little part of why we didn't do so well, and why Russia has played well in this tournament. You can see that they are playing with that real urgency and hunger," he said.

"They played with desperation throughout the tournament and deserved credit for taking that through to the final where they were beaten by Australia. They were an extremely fit side who could run all day, and they were quick and powerful.

"They are a team who if they gain possession, they gain confidence and get better and better and we saw that from our first experience on day one and then they just carried on doing that. Australia had to work extremely hard in that final and it was probably just the game being six minutes longer that paid dividends for them," he said.

The second leg of the Women's Sevens Series takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from February 20-21.