Rio Olympics 2016: Silver for New Zealand women's rugby sevens team

The women's sevens team have claimed New Zealand's second silver medal of the Rio Olympics after falling to Australia in this morning's final.

The Australians went into the tournament as the heavy favourites having dominated the world series this year, winning three of the five stops on the circuit and making the final of one other.

They lived up to their top billing in the final, overwhelming the Kiwi side 24-17, extending their winning streak over New Zealand that dates back to February 2015.

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.

Woodman, who scored a try after regulation time was up on the clock to restore some credibility to the scoreline, was inconsolable after the match, crouching beneath the uprights.

Her devastated teammates sobbed openly around her, before Kiwi fans in the crowd performed an emotional haka. The New Zealand side responded with a haka of their own.

The New Zealand side ensured they would be among the first batch of Olympic medallists in women's rugby after crushing Great Britain 25-7 in the semifinal earlier today.

While they could not come away with the ultimate prize, New Zealand captain Sarah Goss said her side are proud to have come away with the silver in what has become a highly competitive women's field.

"For the last four and half years we've focused on coming here and doing New Zealand proud and I still think we've done that," said Goss.

In the bronze medal play-off, Canada pulled off a shock 33-10 win over Great Britain to claim the final spot on the podium.

Kayla McAlister opened the scoring mid-way through the first spell after New Zealand were gifted solid territory on the back of a line-out error from Australia.

Tyla Nathan-Wong, who struggled with her kicking all tournament, could not add the extra points. Australia levelled the score two minutes before halftime with a controversial try to Emma Tonegato in the corner. Tonegato looked to have dropped the ball short of the line, but it was not picked up by the touch judge just metres from the action.

If that was poor luck for New Zealand, Australia's next try came courtesy of poor decision making from the Kiwi team. Woodman received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on as Australia looked to have an overlap on the right wing.

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 to take a 10-5 lead at halftime.

The green and golds scored again just before Woodman returned to the field, with Ellia Green dotting down to give the Australians a healthy advantage, before Charlotte Caslick put the game beyond doubt with a try under the posts.McAlister and Woodman restored some respectability to the scoreline notching up two tries in the final two minutes.

The transtasman showdown for gold was the final everyone had predicted, but both New Zealand and Australia had their shaky moments in getting there.

Australia needed a late equalizer in a 12-12 result against the United States to finish the group stage, while New Zealand struggled to a 5-0 win over the Americans, narrowly avoiding a quarterfinal upset.

The situation was back to normal with medals on the line, with Australia surging past Canada 17-5 in the first semifinal, before the Kiwis punished an ill-discipline Great British team.

A Woodman hat-trick propelled New Zealand to a 25-7 win over the Brits, the most convincing performers on day two of the tournament.

Woodman, New Zealand's world series-leading tryscorer, put her team ahead in the second minute, beating two defenders en route to the line. Britain hit back after a turnover from Woodman to take the lead at 7-5 but then conceded a try and lost two players on consecutive penalties just before halftime.

Katy McLean was sin-binned for holding Woodman back as she chased a kicked ball toward the in-goal and Amy Wilson Hardy was yellow-carded soon after for tackling Ruby Tui in the air. Woodman exploited the overlap for tries just before and after halftime, giving New Zealand a 20-7 advantage when 7-on-7 parity was restored.

- NZ Herald

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