New Zealand sevens star Tyla Nathan-Wong has praised her side's gutsy defensive effort following a tense 5-0 quarterfinal win over the USA.
The Kiwi team remain on track to be among the first batch of Olympic medallists in women's sevens after winning their way through to the semifinals with a nerveless
performance against the Americans. New Zealand will meet Great Britain in tomorrow's semifinal, while Australia will take on Canada for a place in the gold medal match.
Up 5-0 at halftime in today's quarterfinal, the Kiwi team were reduced to six players mid-way through the second half when Nathan-Wong was yellow-carded for a late tackle.
It made for a tense few minutes as the New Zealand side scrambled to repel the waves of the US attack, before Nathan-Wong entered the fray again with 30 seconds on the clock.
The 22-year-old said she was personally disappointed to put her side under so much pressure in a knock-out match, but delighted with how her side responded.
"I put my team under a lot of pressure, but I'm so proud of what they did. There was six on the field, [USA] were five metres out from our tryline and the girls dug deep," Nathan-Wong told Radio Sport.
"We call it the honey-badger attitude, we stuck to it, [defended] well, were patient and we ended up getting away with the win."
Nathan-Wong said it was agonising watching on from the sideline during her two-minute spell in the bin, knowing there was so much on the line.
"It felt like a whole game had gone by, it was hard watching, especially when the time was up and I was still on the sideline waiting to come on."
Portia Woodman scored the only try of the match, breaking the deadlock on the stroke of halftime after displaying an impressive burst of speed on the outside to race 40m untouched to the tryline.
USA proved just what a dangerous side they can be in their final pool play match against Australia earlier today.
The Americans came desperately close to pulling off a major upset against the gold medal favourites, before Australia escaped with a 12-12 draw after a Emma Tonegato scored a try at the death, which was converted on the fulltime siren by Chloe Dalton.
Australia bounced back with a 24-0 win over Spain in their quarterfinal, to set up a semifinal showdown with Canada, who edged past France 15-5 in their quarterfinal.
Great Britain, the Kiwi team's semifinal opponents tomorrow, were impressive in their quarterfinal outing, overwhelming the Fijians 26-7.
Earlier today New Zealand overpowered France 26-7 to sweep their pool.
The previously unbeaten French side entered the clash in good form but New Zealand blew them away early with their superior physicality on a gusty Rio day. It followed convincing wins over Kenya and Spain on day one.