Black Ferns Seven coach Cory Sweeney said it was an emotional and proud moment for his champion to win his first World Series title more than two years after a long absence due to the influence of Covid-19.
New Zealand – Tokyo Olympic gold medalists – have repaid Australia for their defeat in the Langford Sevens final with a brilliant comeback victory at 21:14 in the Toulouse Sevens Sunday (Monday NZ time) – their first title in the women’s series from Sydney in February 2020
Sweeney co-coached with Allan Bunting at the triumph in Tokyo after the seven Black Ferns won all the big titles on offer since they finished second to Australia and won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Bunting resigned after Tokyo and Bunting have been coaches since Covid-19 prevented them from returning to the World Series until their comeback last month in Langford, Canada.
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The title in Toulouse was Sweeney’s first since Bunting’s departure and was a major victory ahead of the season’s highlights – the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in England and the Sevens World Cup in September in Cape Town, South Africa.
“It’s a proud and emotional moment for all of us. After Langford, we worked on a few things, we did some amazing training and we put it into practice this week, “said Sweeney.
The success in Toulouse over the Australians was a fitting end to the month on the road, and captain Sarah Hirini – the final player – paid tribute to her side after the last tournament of the season.
“I love this team,” she said in a television interview.
“We haven’t played in a very long time and winning the tournament now is quite exciting.”
Hirini said she didn’t have to say much at half-time to inspire the comeback.
“I don’t change much. I have an amazing band around me and some of the best players in the world. When they go ahead, I can get out of it.”
Hirini said it was a really tough final because Australia was “an amazing team and obviously won the world series”.
Australia led after a half-time of 14: 7, but the Black Ferns kept them without goals and scored two attempts by Alena Sail shortly after the restart and Kelly Brazier in the 12th minute.
Demi Hayes took the lead in the second minute of the first minute, while Risi Pouri-Lane equalized for Kiwi.
However, Faith Nathan just scored seven points for Australia just before the break.
It was soon erased when Sail jumped in the eighth minute and Brazier tried to win the match.
The Black Ferns were rewarded for the persistent pressure with Hirini, who ran towards the field. The Brazilian backed away from the hand and captured the Australian defense, taking a clever arrow to the try-line.
Michaela Blyde, a prolific shooter for the Black Ferns team, who overcame a milestone of 150 attempts in Toulouse, showed a potential action to save the match in the final, when she pulled Australian captain Charlotte Caslick from behind.
The Black Ferns had previously beat Fiji 24:14 in the semifinals after doubles Blyde and Hirini.
Reapi Ulunisau and Alowesi Nakoci scored in the second half for Fiji, but the Kiwis always commanded.
Australia defeated Ireland 40: 7 in the second semifinal.
New Zealand, which missed most of the series due to Covid-19, finished fifth overall with 57 points.
Australia was world champion with 80 points, France was second with 60 points, third Fiji and fourth Ireland with 60 points, but they had a smaller point difference.
Fiji, meanwhile, won the men’s title in Toulouse, beating Ireland’s first finalists at 29:17.
“Teamwork in defense and attack was what this victory was based on. We held the ball well and followed our game plan, ” said Tevita Dagunu from Fiji.
“For all Fijians around the world, this victory is for you.”
The New Zealand sevens All Black survived the frustration of not getting into the knockout stage of the Cup in the men’s playoffs for ninth place when they won 42: 7.
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Caleb Tangitau (2), Dylan Collier and Akuila Rokolisoa (2) were their test shooters in the match, with Scotland’s only attempt to go through Jamie Farndale after a great performance by Kaleem Barret.
Earlier in the semifinals, Joe Webber, Regan Ware (2), McGarvey-Black and Tangitau (2) scored when New Zealand beat Spain 36: 7, while Scotland secured one of its best victories in recent times. Jamie Farndale, Jordan Edmunds, Ross McCann and Robbie Fergusson scored as they achieved the best of South Africa 24-21.
The men’s season will end next weekend with two more series events in London and in August in Los Angeles.
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