The New Zealand women's sevens team threw away a commanding lead to lose the Dubai final to Australia today.
Ahead 22-7 at halftime and then 27-7 just after the break, the world champion Kiwis conceded 28 unanswered points to allow Australia a 35-27 win.
Australia felt their superior fitness told in the end as they scored four converted tries as time ticked away on an unlikely comeback.
"It's not a fluke, the girls have worked really hard on their core skills," said Australian coach Tim Walsh.
"We've been progressing the whole way through pre-season. But every team is going to up their game going into the next round of the series, and we've just got to keep working."
Australian captain Sharni Williams was equally delighted.
"We had a little bit in the tank at the end of the game. We were missing a lot of tackles but when we got our hands on the ball we felt strong and we attacked," she said.
"Our conditioning has definitely paid off."
New Zealand had looked to be cruising to another Dubai title in a tournament which kicks off the second world series for the women.
They crushed Brazil 40-7 in the quarter-finals and then beat Canada 19-5 in their semifinal.
Kayla McAlister and Honey Hireme were the attacking weapons with McAlister scoring 10 tries over the two days.
The next tournament is in Atlanta in the United States on February 15-16.
- © Fairfax NZ News