New Zealand were popular winners with the Japanese crowd after beating first-time Cup finalists France 24-12 to complete a successful defence of the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens title on Sunday.
The two teams had met in the last match of day one with the Black Ferns Sevens running out convincing 38-7 winners at the Mikuni World Stadium, but the final was a much closer affair and only settled after late scores by Portia Woodman and HSBC Player of the Final Tyla Nathan-Wong.
“There were some massive plays there, the girls really stepped up. We have had a couple of injuries over the last few weeks and to come away with back-to-back golds is pretty special and I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with our families,” said New Zealand captain Sarah Goss.
Australia claimed the bronze medal for the second year running after avenging their loss to Spain on day one with a 19-5 victory, but their lead in the standings over New Zealand has been cut to six points with two events remaining in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2018.
Russia are a further eight points adrift on 42 after finishing fifth, while France’s runners-up finish means they now sit fourth with 40 points with Canada and Spain, fresh from their first Cup semi-final appearance since 2012, completing the top six with 32 points each.
In other matches, USA won the Challenge Trophy after a try by captain Nicole Heavirland in sudden-death extra-time secured a 24-19 victory over Ireland, while China secured their best-ever placing of eighth as they prepare to rejoin the series as a core team next season.
Courtesy of World Rugby