Rio Olympics 2016: Australia on top of trans-Tasman battle

By David Leggat

It's 3-0 and in danger of getting worse; New Zealand need to arrest their sliding transtasman fortunes at the Rio Olympics.

Australia's sevens final victory over the Black Ferns today is their third success over old rivals New Zealand at the Rio Olympics in the first four days of competition.

And if Australia's eventing team, led by Christopher Burton, hold their positions through the showjumping round early tomorrow it will become 4-0.

What's to be done about this?

Toppling the green and golds is a relatively minor part of New Zealand's ambitions in Rio, but it does matter to those back home.

The sevens defeat, 24-17, hurt. It is after all rugby, sort of - despite what those proponents insist is a specifically different game - and it counts in this land, but there could be no complaints that the better team had won.

Back track to the first day of competition in Rio when world No 1 Australia got their men's hockey campaign under way with a 2-1 win over the Black Sticks.

Not a surprise in itself, given that New Zealand are ranked eight, but still a game in which the Black Sticks were seriously competitive and might argue they could have got a share of the points.

Then there was Natalie Rooney's silver medal in the enthralling women's trap shooting event.

Who beat her in the final? None other than another Aussie, Catherine Skinner.

Rooney's was a terrific performance and she could have nailed the gold after taking an early advantage, only to falter midway through her round as Skinner came home on a wet sail.

If Australia hold on in the eventing, those with a conspiratorial bent will start reading plenty into their tea leaves.

The sevens women and Rooney have given New Zealand two silvers to give them a foothold on the medal table.

Curious that they are silvers when you look at the New Zealand numbers from past Games.

It has been the poorest medal return for New Zealand.

Compared to 43 golds and 41 bronze medals, the sevens women scored just New Zealand's 21st silver.

It's a strange thing; then again, athletes strive for gold; they get silver if they can't have gold. No one tries to compete primarily for silver.

New Zealand's best silver return was the four at Barcelona in 1992.

Best keep a watch on the transtasman rivalry throughout Rio.

- NZ Herald

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