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Ferns on top down under

New Zealand have won the Oceania Championship – beating Australia again – while Papua New Guinea qualify for the World Cup.

The Ferns have lifted their first title of the season – and continued their post-Olympic run of wins over rivals Australia in Suva, Fiji.

A near-full strength Black Ferns were too strong for the Olympic champions – who were still trying out some “discoveries” from the recent Uni Sevens series - in a final played in very wet conditions, so much so that the plate final was called off.

The Ferns scored a try in each half through Ruby Tui and Gayle Broughton, while Australia's consolation try to Evania Pelita came after New Zealand lost Alena Saili to the sin bin for a professional foul.

It completed an unbeaten tournament for the Ferns, who beat Fiji in the semi-finals having sailed through their pool on the first day, though they did concede a try to the surprise team - Cook Islands – and were held to just 15-0 by Papua New Guinea.

That performance from Papua was of real and lasting importance, however, as they had been held 12-12 by Cook Islands in their opening game, and if they had lost by more than 27 points they would have missed out on a place in the semi-finals – and therefore a place in the World Cup. But a backs-to-the wall performance ensured that the Ferns could only cross the line three times.

Meanwhile Australia have blitzed through their pool, including a big 28-5 win over Fiji in front of an enthusiastic Fijian crowd.

The weather was a major factor on day two, with rain-enforced delays eventually resulting in the cancelation of the 7th and 5th place playoff finals. Fiji lifted the crowd when they beat Papua comfortably in the third-place game, before Ferns win in the final.

One other highlight was the presence of eight teams in the tournament – the largest Oceania 7s ever in a tournament that has only commanded a regular place in the schedule since 2012. While some teams such as Tahiti and Tonga were well beaten, they will have taken away a lot from the experience.

Pool A: Papua New Guinea 12–12 Cook Islands; New Zealand 70–0 Tahiti; Papua New Guinea 77–0 Tahiti; New Zealand 26–5 Cook Islands; Cook Islands 71–0 Tahiti; New Zealand 15–0 Papua New Guinea

Pool B: Fiji 36–0 Samoa; Australia 59–0 Tonga; Fiji 52–5 Tonga; Australia 57–0 Samoa; Samoa 22–7 Tonga; Australia 28–5 Fiji

Plate (5th/8th place)
Semi-finals: Samoa 59-0 Tahiti; Cook Islands 29-0 Tonga.
Finals: Cancelled due to adverse weather

Cup (1st/4th place)
Semi-finals: Australia 25-7 Papua New Guinea; New Zealand 24-0 Fiji
Third place final: Papua New Guinea 0-39 Fiji; Final: Australia 5-12 New Zealand

New Zealand: Portia Woodman - Counties Manukau; Tenika Willison - Waikato; Stacey Waaka - Waikato; Ruby Tui - Canterbury; Terina Te Tamaki - Waikato; Alena Saili - Otago; Tyla Nathan-Wong - Auckland; Kayla McAlister - Auckland; Sarah Goss - Manawatu; Theresa Fitzpatrick - Auckland; Gayle Broughton - Taranaki; Michaeala Blyde - Bay of Plenty

Australia: 1.Shannon Parry (C), 23 caps, Griffith University; 2. Sharni Williams (C), 22 caps,University of Canberra; 3. Vani Pelite, 13 caps, University of Adelaide ; 4. Emma Tonegato, 17 caps, University of Adelaide ; 5. Lauren Brown*, Griffith University  ; 6. Charlotte Caslick, 22 caps, Bond University ; 7. Alicia Quirk, 22 caps, University of New England ; 8. Emma Sykes, 5 caps, University of Queensland; 9. Page McGregor*, Macquarie University ; 10. Mahalia Murphy, 7 caps, University of Adelaide ; 11. Dominque Du Toit, 5 caps, Macquarie University ; 12. Emilee Cherry, 24 caps, University of Queensland

Previous winners:

2016:     Australia
2015:     Fiji
2014:     New Zealand
2013:     Australia
2012:     New Zealand
2011:     NOT HELD
2010:      NOT HELD
2009:     NOT HELD
2008:     Australia