NZ Women's Sevens team loses out to Australia
New Zealand have been beaten 24-12 by Australia in the final of the Sao Paulo leg of the Women's Sevens World Series.
The Kiwis appeared a yard off the pace throughout the final, struggling with the slippery conditions and Australia's swarming defence.
Both teams traded penalties early in the game inside Australia's half, before the women in yellow started to control possession and march down field.
New Zealand's defence was strong, but Australia finally broke through after six minutes, with Charlotte Caslick scoring under the posts.
Australia won the ball back from the restart and proceeded to get back into New Zealand's 22m. Emma Tonegato added a second try on the left wing two minutes later, handing Australia a 12-0 halftime lead.
The Aussies were in again just after the break, although New Zealand appeared fired up coming out after halftime.
Having been on defence for the first minute of the half as New Zealand looked for a way back into the match, Emilee Cherry finished off a slick Australian counter-attack to extend their lead to 17-0.
Kiwi coach Sean Horan then made a change to his lineup, bringing on exciting Taranaki teen Gayle Broughton.
As in Atanta last weekend, Broughton lit it up again in the final, breaking through the Australian defence within a minute of being on the field for New Zealand's opening try.
She was involved again a minute later, helping spread the ball to Portia Woodman on the right wing, who stepped inside two defenders to score another try.
Selica Winiata added the conversion, reducing the gap to 17-12 between the teams.
From the restart New Zealand won the ball back through a penalty, and appeared to be heading for a shock comeback.
However, Australia won another penalty at the ruck and came up with a lovely set piece which freed up Caslick to run 70m for the score, settling the match.
The result leaves New Zealand and Australia level at the top of the Women's Sevens World Series table, on 56 points, ahead of Canada on 48 points, and Russia on 40.
Canada took out the third-fourth playoff match, dominating England 26-0 after suffering a heartbreaking semifinal defeat to New Zealand.
Horan's girls came from behind in that match, a repeat of the Atlanta 7s final. Trailing 17-7 with one minute remaining, Broughton scored to bring New Zealand within touching distance.
After the restart, New Zealand retained possession for three minutes after the final hooter sounded before standout Sarah Goss scored, with Winiata adding both conversions to hand the Kiwis a 21-17 win.
The next leg of the Women's Sevens World Series is in China on April 5 and 6.