10 Apr 2016

NZ lose Atlanta final to Australia

3:06 pm on 10 April 2016

The New Zealand women's sevens team have been beaten 24-19 by Australia in the final of the Atlanta World Series event.

Australia's Charlotte Caslick breaks New Zealand's defence.

Australia's Charlotte Caslick breaks New Zealand's defence. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Australia saw off New Zealand having earlier dispatched hosts USA (22-5) and Canada (26-14) in the quarter and semi-finals.

New Zealand dropped a pool game to the USA (12-5), but took care of France (24-7) in their quarter-final before defeating England 24-19 in the semis.

Australia's trend of starting each game on the front foot continued in the Cup Final as they raced into a 19-point lead against New Zealand.

Player of the final Charlotte Caslick squirmed through some weak New Zealand defence to dot down before Alicia Quirk scored on the left a minute later.

Emilee Cherry capped a perfect start for the Australians when she intercepted a loose pass to score right under the posts.

Selica Winiata brought New Zealand back into the contest right on the half-time siren with a try after an extended passage of play in Australia's 22.

However, Australia put the game beyond doubt when Cherry expertly turned over the ball at the breakdown before finding the onrushing Caslick to score on the right with four minutes left on the clock.

Portia Woodman and Winiata scored tries in the final 90 seconds, but it wasn't enough for the three-time World Series champions.

Australia's Emma Tonegato was named Player of the Tournament.

New Zealand Coach Sean Horan was impressed by the resilience of his young side to come close on day two.

"We only had nine players available today so had to dig deep. There were seven girls out of the 14 playing in their first final today. Then three new caps playing their first ever international tournament. They played a lot of game time, so the experience from this weekend will be invaluable," asid Horan.

Although Australia have now won three straight tournaments, Horan doesn't believe the team in green and gold is unbeatable.

"England stopped Australia on day one so they are not untouchable. We learnt a lot tonight for a young team. I'm stoked with the heart the team showed. We handed them 19 points on a plate but were still about a minute away from winning. We have to be smarter and more settled and take our opportunities when they come."

With just two rounds remaining in the Women's World Series, Australia leads the standings with 60 points, 14 points clear of New Zealand with Canada a further four points back.

The fourth leg of the season heads north to Langford in Canada next weekend.

Final placings for the Atlanta Sevens (Top 6): 1. Australia (20 World Series points), 2. New Zealand (18 points), 3. England (16 points), 4. Canada (14 points), 5. USA (12 points), 6. Russia (10 points)

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