Ferns close the gap at top of SVNS

A second consecutive title win by New Zealand leaves them just four points behind Australia with three rounds to go.

Published by John Birch, March 4th, 2024

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Ferns close the gap at top of SVNS

A second consecutive title win by New Zealand leaves them just four points behind Australia with three rounds to go.

Michaela Blyde’s hat-trick powered New Zealand to a 29-14 victory over old rivals Australia to take their second gold medal of HSBC SVNS 2024 in as many weeks.

Both sides went into the final unbeaten in Los Angeles but brilliance from Blyde, plus scores from Risi Pouri-Lane and Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, proved the difference as they closed the gap with series leaders Australia in the standings to just four points.

Michaela Blyde broke the deadlock for New Zealand on the left edge, but Australia responded when Sharni Smale's break set up Charlotte Caslick for an almost immediate reply.

Blyde, however, would get New Zealand back in front with a sensational score from 60 metres out, shrugging off three Australian defenders to scorch away and score her 11th try of the weekend.

Australia’s problems were compounded as Maddison Levi saw yellow for a high tackle, New Zealand taking advantage after the break as Risi Pouri-Lane was found in acres of space on the right wing. Moments later, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe showed her strength and pace to further that lead once more down the right wing to 22-7.

Disciplined New Zealand defence pinned Australia in the own 22, but Levi couldn’t be contained forever as she combined with Caslick and ran 80 metres to cut the deficit.

But with just over a minute to go, Blyde completed her hat-trick down the left wing, securing the victory and backing up New Zealand’s win in Vancouver last weekend.

 USA beat Canada for bronze

The scorching pace of Naya Tapper and Steph Rovetti, helped by a late penalty try, was enough for USA to overcome Krissy Scurfield’s effort and secure victory over Canada.

Tapper scored the only try of the first half after finding space between two defenders on the left wing, while Rovetti showed her pace with a 75-metre effort.

All to play for at the bottom

After two weekends in North America the relegation battle is even closer than that at the top. Four teams will have to playoff against the best four challengers for places in next year’s SVNS, and now there are five teams battling to avoid the (potential) drop.

Great Britain are now just one point after the bottom four, but after reaching the quarter-finals this weekend Brazil are just a point behind. South Africa did even better this weekend, their 6th place pulling them off the bottom of the standings. However, despite beating Great Britain for a second week running, Spain ended last and drop to the bottom of the table just behind Japan.


Pool A: Fiji 5-12 Brazil; New Zealand 41-5 South Africa; Fiji 7-19 South Africa; New Zealand 40-0 Brazil; Brazil 7-10 South Africa; New Zealand 38-7 Fiji

Pool B: Australia 31-0 Ireland; France 35-7 Japan; Australia 46-6 Japan; France 21-5 Ireland; Ireland 26-12 Japan; France 14-17 Australia

Pool C: Canada 20-10 Great Britain; United States 40-5 Spain; Canada 31-0 Spain; United States 34-7 Great Britain; Spain 21-19 Great Britain; Canada 19-22 United States

9th-12th Place Semi-Finals: Great Britain 17-12 Fiji; Spain 12-14 Japan

Quarter-Finals: France 19-28 Canada; New Zealand 36-12 Ireland; United States 24-7 South Africa; Australia 26-5 Brazil

Semi-Finals: Canada 12-31 New Zealand; United States 19-26 Australia

11th Place: Fiji 40-7 Spain

9th Place: Great Britain 19-24 Japan

7th Place: Ireland 14-28 Brazil

5th Place: France 53-0 South Africa

3rd Place: Canada 7-21 United States

Final New Zealand 29-14 Australia