The New Zealand women's sevens team have missed a prime chance to further close the gap on World Series leaders Australia after falling to a 31-14 Cup final defeat to England in Canada.

Australia had faltered in the Cup semifinal, losing 15-5 to England, but New Zealand were overpowered in the second half of the decider against a combative and totally committed England.

The climax started at a furious clip, with both sides swapping tries. Captain Sarah Goss scored within the first 90 seconds after a quick tap. Portia Woodman scored her 109th try in brilliant style, roaring in from 70m after using her trademark swerve.

But New Zealand could not get her enough ball in space. England, conversely, were using their big runners such as skipper Emily Scarratt, to devastating effect, and they won the breakdown with their vigour and application.


Heather Fisher, the MVP of the final, was the embodiment of their physicality, but a driving tackle by Danielle Waterman, the hard point of her shoulder deep into Stacey Waaka's midriff, was the best example of the English spirit.

New Zealand started to fall off tackles and made unforced errors as they wilted, but England were deserved champions.

Earlier in the day, New Zealand had cruised through their quarter-final, blanking Russia 43-0. But they needed a golden point try to Woodman to emerge 12-7 from the semifinal against France after the scores were tied at 7-7 at fulltime.

New Zealand have reduced the competition points' gap on Australia by two. They still sit on second with 64, Australia on 76, and England move up to 60.

This was England's first tournament victory since Houston in 2013.

The fifth and final leg will be played in Montferrand, home of French Top 14 club Clermont, from May 28-29.

England 31 (Heather Fisher 2, Alice Richardson 2, Joanne Watmore tries; Katy McLean 3 con) New Zealand 14 (Sarah Goss, Portia Woodman tries; Selica Winiata 2 con) HT: 19-14