Rio Olympics 2016: Rugby sevens coach plays down refereeing blunder

New Zealand women's sevens coach Sean Horan is reluctant to blame crucial refereeing blunder for his side's loss to Australia in this morning's final.

The Kiwi side collected silver in Rio after suffering a heart-breaking 24-17 loss to the Australians, who have dominated the sevens circuit all year.

New Zealand controlled the early exchanges, with Kayla McAlister opening the scoring after an impressive burst down the sideline. The 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.

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."

If the first try was bad luck for New Zealand, Australia's second try came courtesy of bad decision-making from the Kiwi team. Portia Woodman, who had been a star for the Kiwi side all tournament, 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.

Horan said the issuing of the yellow card for Woodman 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."

While debate will rage among Kiwi fans whether Tonegato's try influenced the overall result, what can't be denied is the Aussie women were the slicker team.

New Zealand haven't beaten the Australians since February 2015 and it was clear why in today's final, with Australia's pace, execution and decision-making a notch above their transtasman rivals.

However Kiwis on social media were quick to vent their frustration about the try,

On Facebook Nita Tuanau said "The ref and sideliners were wearing blindfolds - should have been a "no try". Aussie never got pulled up once for not releasing the ball."

Nima Price called for TMO to be used in a gold medal game.

"It's embarrassing by world rugby," she said on Facebook. "This issue of it taking up time, is a joke. For semi-finals and gold medal game a TMO should be used. Aussies first try clearly, wasn't a try yet,"

- NZ Herald

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