An extraordinary last gasp try by Michaela Blyde has carried the Black Ferns Sevens to a Cup final victory in Kitakyushu over Canada.

It is their third Cup final victory in four events and extends their World Series lead by 10 points from Australia, who are faltering in their series defence.

Composure under pressure and fitness were crucial for New Zealand, who came under real pressure from a Canada side that had played some tremendous playoffs sevens on day two, blanking Russia and Australia. But their senior player Jen Kish will be kicking herself. She scored an early try but also lost the ball across the line for another and then shelled a kickoff with just 40 seconds to play which allowed New Zealand back in the game.

Niall Williams scored an opportunist try, her fifth of the weekend, and then Portia Woodman, voted the player of the final, even though she was often starved of the ball, scored a 60m try, her seventh. But it looked like Canada would hold their narrow 14-12 lead until Blyde's try, which included two vital passes by captain Sarah Goss and Kelly Brazier.


"That was real hard because Canada have been on point all day," says Woodman. "We're buggered, lungs are hurting, legs are gone."

Goss was proud of her team's "fight" and indeed they had to show their character more than once during the event. France, on day one, and England in the Cup quarter-final asked questions, especially physically, of New Zealand. In the main, they responded well.
Canada were up in their faces in the decider and some of the passing was, as a result, shoddy.

Standout performers over the weekend were Goss and Ruby Tui for their high work-rates, Woodman for her potent finishing and Williams for her bruising defence and clinical finishing.

Australia took the bronze medal, edging Fiji 19-17, but, with no Cup wins in 2016-17, it has been some fall from grace for the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallists.

The penultimate Women's World Series tournament takes place in Langford, Canada next month on May 27-28.

There is a suggestion, yet to be officially confirmed, that New Zealand's Black Ferns 15s players, such as Brazier and Woodman, will not be available as they will be gearing up for August's Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland. The final sevens tournament will be in the French city of Clermont-Ferrand on June 24-25.

But in the meantime, the Black Ferns Sevens have the form on the board and the points in the bank.

New Zealand 17 (Niall Williams, Portia Woodman, Michaela Blyde tries; Tyla Nathan-Wong con)
Canada 14 (Hannah Darling, Jen Kish tries; Ghislaine Landry 2 con)
HT: 7-7