Rio Olympics 2016: I cannot feel like this again, says Portia Woodman

By Daniel Gilhooly

New Zealand's Tyla Nathan-Wong, right, and her teammates are overcome with emotion after losing the women's sevens final. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Tyla Nathan-Wong, right, and her teammates are overcome with emotion after losing the women's sevens final. Photo / AP

There was little anyone could do to console Portia Woodman, who believes she let New Zealand down in the Olympic women's sevens final.

Woodman scored her tournament-leading 10th try on the final hooter as New Zealand lost 24-17 to Australia in Rio but was distraught and unable to stop tears which lasted long after the match.

The flying 25-year-old winger is convinced she was to blame after being shown a yellow card late in the first half for deliberately knocking the ball down. Australia scored twice either side of halftime while Woodman was sidelined, taking control of the decider.

"The fact that I did that one knock-on, that one little thing that cost us two tries, it really got to me," she said. "The feeling of letting my team down, that's what got me most."

She says the knock-down was instinctive rather than deliberate but had no qualms with the ruling.

Woodman also paid tribute to an Australian team who play at a different level to the other teams on the world series circuit and are worthy champions.

"They come from a real touch rugby background and they're really good at reading the play whereas we like the contact. It's just two different styles. We knew they were going to bring it, and they brought it."

She is desperate to continue for New Zealand and is already committing to the 2020 Tokyo Games if form allows. "Oh yeah. I'm not feeling like this again, that's for sure."

The decider had a touch of controversy, coming late in the first half after New Zealand led 5-0 through a Kayla McAlister try.

Spanish referee Alhambra Nievas awarded a try in the corner to Emma Tonegato, with subsequent replays showing the Australian winger had spilled the ball forward. Nievas consulted with an assistant referee and in-goal judge before awarding a try which levelled the scores.

New Zealand coach Sean Horan said Australia played outstandingly but they got an important leg-up after his team had dominated the early exchanges.

"It was influential," he said. "It's sport and you've got humans in the middle who make mistakes. But it's a big stage and the reality is that if there's technology, it needs to be used. It did swing it and Aussie had the momentum and we struggled to get it back.

"They got ahead, we started to chase and, when that happens, you push it too hard."

Australia crossed again on halftime through Evania Pelite after Woodman was shown the yellow card.

Up 10-5 at halftime, the Australians took command through converted tries to Ellia Green and Charlotte Caslick before McAlister bagged her second and Woodman crossed for a tournament-leading 10th try in Rio.

Australia looked the more dangerous team with their speed across the park and the play-making of Caslick, forcing New Zealand into conceding numerous penalties.

Horan says gold was their only target but and it will take time for his players to come to terms with the result. "It's gutting but once it sinks in we're going to be hugely proud of our achievement."

Earlier, New Zealand overwhelmed Great Britain 25-7 in the semifinals, with Woodman scoring a hat-trick. Australia beat Canada 17-5 in the other semifinal before the Canadians beat Great Britain 26-5 in the bronze playoff.

- NZN

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