NZ takes silver in women's sevens final

9:07 pm on 9 August 2016

The sting of missing out on an Olympic Gold has not dimmed the passion of the New Zealand women's sevens team and the captain predicts the sport will grow exponentially.

The Black Ferns are bringing home silver after losing the rugby sevens final to their gold-wearing counterparts in a match that was tinged with controversy.

While Australia scored four tries to New Zealand's three (two from Kayla McAlister and one by Portia Woodman), to take the match 24-17, video replays of their first try suggested the ball was lost forward on the line.

New Zealand scored first, with McAlister crossing the line to put her team 5-0 up in the first five minutes of the game, but Australia evened the score with Emma Tonegato touched down for the favourites. Though the try was granted it appeared Tonegato lost the ball forward on the line.

When New Zealand's Woodman was given a yellow card shortly before half-time for intentionally knocking the ball down, Australia's Evania Pelite capitalised with a try on the stroke of half time to take a 10-5 lead into the break.

The Australians extended their lead to 17-5 shortly after the break, and mistakes from New Zealand on defence gave them the chance to ease in for their fourth try.

New Zealand scored twice in the final few minutes but it was too late for gold.

Woodman said a couple of crucial mistakes was the difference and they knew it was going to be a tough game.

"So we just thought 'we have to make do with the ball that we have and be patient and have patience on attack and defence'. I think a couple of times we didn't do that and it ended up in a try for them," said Woodman.

"A few mistakes that Australia definitely capitalised on and we knew that, they are a good rugby nation and we knew that they were going to bring it to us every time."

Woodman said she would enjoy a break but was looking forward to the next world series, which starts at the end of the year, and Tokyo 2020.

Kayla McAlister breaks through Australia's defence to score for New Zealand.

Kayla McAlister breaks through Australia's defence to score for New Zealand. Photo: AFP

Woodman's mother Katherine, who was in the stands, said she was happy the players could come back home with something to show.

"The biggest thing for me was getting to a point where they could get a medal. For me it was like 'if you get a medal' I'm more than happy, if you get a gold well absolute bonus you know. But I was really calm."

New Zealand has the youngest team in the Olympics women's sevens programme.

Captain Sarah Goss said that boded well for them and believed the women's game in New Zealand would benefit from their trailblazing efforts.

"When we came out here our vision was to inspire young girls to wear the black jersey and to play rugby and I think we've done that. We showed the crowd that women's sevens is a top sport at the moment and if we can keep doing that then Tokyo 2020 is going to be even bigger," said Goss.

Shakira Baker believes the debuting of Sevens at the Olympics is going to increase the numbers of women's rugby incredibly.

"Just seeing some stats already about how many people are watching women's rugby now and how many people want to sign up and registered over the last couple of years since it's been an Olympic sport is crazy," said Baker.

"So I think it's just going to grow bigger, more money's going to go into it and I think a lot of girls will look to switch codes and it's going to be a lot more competitive in the future."

Baker expected many members of the team could be around in another four years.

"The average age of our team is 24, [that's] still quite young so I think that a few girls will look to continue on the legacy and still continue to play. I know myself that I still want to play and hopefully try for the next Olympics."

The New Zealanders had gone into the final on the back of an emphatic win over Great Britain 25-7 in this morning's semi, scoring three tries to their opponents' one in the first half and crossing the line twice more in the second to secure the win. The strong performance included a hat trick of tries for Woodman.

But the team faced a tough challenge in the gold medal match; they hadn't beaten Australia since February 2015.

Earlier, Canada took out the bronze medal with a 33-10 win over Great Britain.

Today's result follows yesterday's silver medal win by shooter Natalie Rooney in the women's trap event.

Look back at our blog of the match here: