The women's sevens team, including Tauranga-based coach Sean Horan and Tauranga player Kelly Brazier, claimed New Zealand's second silver medal of the Rio Olympics after falling to Australia.

The Australians went into the tournament as the heavy favourites having dominated the world series this year and lived up to their top billing in the final yesterday morning, overwhelming the Kiwi side 24-17.

While the scoreline suggested a tight encounter, in reality the Australians were in control for most of the match, holding an unassailable 24-5 lead heading in to the final three minutes of the match after exploiting a one-player advantage following the sin-binning of Portia Woodman, who had been the star of the tournament heading into the game.

Calli Turner, assistant coach of the Arataki women's rugby team which Brazier plays for, said the whole team was "just so proud of her".

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"Kelly is just such a hard worker," she said. "She's a playmaker and she's in the middle feeding the ball. Her defence in the middle has just been amazing."

Brazier had been playing for the club for about three years and many of her team mates stopped to watch the final yesterday, Turner said.

While the olympic team appeared disappointed not to have come away with gold, it was a huge achievement, she said.

"Being an olympic medalist, that's going to last with you forever."

Meanwhile, Horan told reporters he was reluctant to blame a crucial refereeing blunder for the team's loss.

New Zealand controlled the early exchanges but he Australians were able to equalise a short-time later courtesy of a controversial try to Emma Tonegato.

Replays showed Tonegato clearly lost the ball short of the line, but neither Spanish referee Alhambra Nievas or her touch judge picked up on the error.

Being an olympic medalist, that's going to last with you forever.

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Horan said was not convinced the ruling by Nievas was decisive to the overall result.

"There were some crucial calls made, but that's just sport. There's going to be human error. But Australia have been pretty good all year," he told Radio Sport after the match.

"We started well, but there were some defining moments in the game and we didn't make the most of our opportunities, the Australians did."

Australia's second try came after Portia Woodman, who had been a star for the Kiwi side all tournament, received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.

Australia exploited their one woman advantage in the first 30 seconds of Woodman's sin-binning, scoring a straight forward try in the left hand corner.

Horan said the yellow card proved to the deciding factor in the match.

"They took their opportunities, we didn't. They scored two tries when we were down to six players and that was probably the defining moment as we saw at the end, we just ran out of time."