Black Ferns Sevens beaten by Australia in Commonwealth Games semifinal

Portia Woodman scored a try, but the Black Ferns Sevens lost their Commonwealth Games semifinal to Australia.

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Portia Woodman scored a try, but the Black Ferns Sevens lost their Commonwealth Games semifinal to Australia.

The Black Ferns’ Commonwealth title defence is over.

So dominant in the group stage, they suffered a heartbreaking 17-12 defeat by Australia in their semifinal at Coventry Stadium on Sunday morning (NZT).

Having beaten the Aussies in that thrilling extra-time final in the first staging of women’s sevens at the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast, this was an equally enthralling trans-Tasman battle, but the women in black came out on the opposite side, after a Maddison Levi hat-trick saw them relegated to the bronze medal match on Monday morning (NZT).

With winger Portia Woodman returning from the ankle injury she sustained on day one, New Zealand had earlier thrashed hosts England 38-7, fellow wing Michaela Blyde taking her try tally for the tournament to 10, as the Black Ferns outscored their group opponents 143-13.

Their reward? A semifinal with 2022 World Series champions Australia.

And it was the Aussies who got off to the better start, opening the scoring when Levi crossed in the second minute off a fine burst from Sharni Williams.

But New Zealand managed to fight back well, taking a 12-5 lead to the break.

Turning the ball over they went on the attack and Tyla Nathan-Wong sent a lovely ball right for Woodman to finish, before they added another on the stroke of halftime when Nathan-Wong hit the line and tucked a lovely inside ball for Theresa Fitzpatrick to dot down.

Needing a hit back of their own, the Aussies sure got it early in the second stanza, as Levi went on the rampage and fended off Sarah Hirini to power over in the left corner to cut the deficit to two.

Then with 90 seconds remaining a brilliant 60-metre team effort saw Levi gun it down that left flank again to go over for her third.

It left a desperate Black Ferns side fighting till the death. With time up on the clock, Woodman went on a run in the Aussie 22m and Levi was yellow carded for pulling the flyer’s long dreadlocks.

However, in spinning the ball wide, New Zealand were muscled off the ball at the ruck and the Aussies were able to seal the deal.

Meanwhile, having beaten England 20-0 to start the day, the All Blacks Sevens also went unbeaten through the group stage, and will face Kenya in the quarterfinals at 8.10am on Sunday.

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