All tied up at top of SVNS

After Round 6 of the SVNS in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand are tied on 106, while at the bottom Great Britain and Brazil will take relegation down to the wire.

Published by John Birch, April 7th, 2024

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All tied up at top of SVNS

New Zealand beat USA 36-7 to lift the trophy at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, their third consecutive gold taking them above Australia to the top of the HSBC SVNS series standings.

Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick as the Black Ferns Sevens proved too strong for a USA side making their first final appearance of the season with a relentless 19-5 victory over France in the semi-final.

Australia had earlier lost to their trans-Tasman rivals 28-14 in the last four, but pulled off a thrilling 24-21 comeback win over France to take bronze. They now sit equal with New Zealand in the series standings on 106 points, but drop to second on points difference.

Elsewhere, Great Britain beat Brazil 14-5 to retain eighth spot in the series standings, but are just two points ahead of Brazil with one more round to go to decide the four team who will compete to avoid relegation in Madrid. However, for Spain, South Africa and Japan it now looks inevitable that they will be in the relegation playoff four.

In only their fifth-ever semi-final meeting Australia who pounced first, a ball spilled by New Zealand picked up and finished by the series’ leading try scorer Maddison Levi.

New Zealand got on the scoreboard thanks to a cruising break from Jorja Miller through the middle, finished off by support runner Michaela Blyde, but Australia replied almost immediately as Charlotte Caslick powered towards the South Stand for her first try of the tournament. New Zealand, however, had one more effort in them before the break, Risi Pouri-Lane equalling the scores at 14-14.

The Black Ferns Sevens took the upper hand in the second half. Portia Woodman-Wickliffe finished off a team score as Australia’s attack faltered in pursuit of an equaliser. Miller crossed under the sticks as the full-time hooter went to complete their route to the final.

Alev Kelter opened the scoring for the US against France after two minutes, stealing the ball from French hands to put the fourth seeds ahead early. France eventually hit back through Chloe Jacquet, but the US would take a seven-point lead into the break after Ilona Maher’s pace was too much for France in open field.

Fatigue set in for both sides in the second-half, an unyielding period that saw the US trapped inside their own 22. But France were unable to capitalise with ball in hand.

Sammy Sullivan emptied her lungs for an all-important try-saving tackle, and with possession back with the US, a cross field kick found space on the right wing for substitute Jaz Gray to use her fresh legs to go the full length for a 19-5 victory.

In the Bronze Final

From 21-7 down, the SVNS series leaders scored three late tries to claim a remarkable bronze. Australia had come out firing, Madison Ashby scoring the game’s opener, but France were on top either side of half time, Valentine Lothoz making it seven a-piece before Joanna Grisez doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time as she looped off the back of the scrum.

France fired again after the break in the second, Chloe Jacquet’s dancing feet helping her under the sticks to take the score to 21-7. Australia needed to reply, Bridget Clark used her pace to come up with the first big moment. Maddison Levi brought the second, drawing Australia level with a brutal hand off on Grisez to score around the French defence. It was Levi again who crowned the victory, finishing off a team try to clinch third place.

When it came to the final itself New Zealand won a third gold in a row.

Jorja Miller got the first points of the gold-medal match, bursting through on an outside break to score under the sticks for seven points. That lead was extended to 12 as the lethal Michaela Blyde couldn’t be stopped in the left corner.

The USA’s problems were compounded when Steph Rovetti was shown yellow for a tackle in the air, allowing Blyde to score an almost identical second. But there was hope on the stoke of half-time, Ilona Maher’s break finished by Alex Sedrick to make the score 17-7 at half time.

Blyde’s third in the second-half all-but secured New Zealand’s win, but Mahina Paul’s score cemented it, taking their lead to 29-7. Paul found a gap once more as the clock went into the red as New Zealand became Hong Kong champions for the second year in a row.

Pool A: France 28-17 Brazil; New Zealand 24-5 Great Britain; France 34-7 Great Britain; New Zealand 33-7 Brazil; Brazil 12-17 Great Britain; New Zealand 21-26 France

Pool B: South Africa 7-20 Ireland; Australia 19-12 Fiji; South Africa 7-24 Fiji; Australia 35-0 Ireland; Ireland 5-21 Fiji; Australia 28-0 South Africa

Pool C: Canada 24-5 Japan; United States 25-5 Spain; Canada 14-7 Spain; United States 17-12 Japan; Japan 19-12 Spain; United States 5-12 Canada

Quarter-Finals: Fiji 7-33 United States; France 31-7 Ireland; Canada 5-26 New Zealand; Australia 12-0 Japan

9th-12th Place Semi-Finals: Spain 5-12 Brazil; 9th-12th Place Semi-Final Great Britain 15-14 South Africa

Semi-Finals: United States 19-5 France; New Zealand 28-14 Australia

11th Place: Spain 17-14 South Africa

9th Place: Brazil 5-14 Great Britain

7th Place: Japan 12-5 Ireland

5th Place: Canada 15-19 Fiji

3rd Place: France 21-24 Australia

Final: United States 7-36 New Zealand

Melrose Claymores

China won a three-team mini-tournament - the Melrose Claymores - played in and around the breaks in the SVNS. Results:

Pool: Hong Kong 19-12 China; Hong Kong 28-10 Thailand; China 24-0 Thailand

Final: Hong Kong 10-24 China