Gayle Broughton and Shiray Kaka celebrate a try against Russia. Photo/Mike Lee (KLC fotos for World Rugby)
A scratchy Black Ferns Sevens side almost suffered a shock loss against a fired-up Fijiana side at the Cape Town Sevens last night, before getting home 12-10 in their Pool A match.
It was the second time in a week that the two sides had met, after their cup quarter-final in Dubai last weekend.
The heavily favoured New Zealanders were stunned when Fiji struck first, showing good form to work Viniana Riwai over for the opening try.
The Black Ferns Sevens made a number of uncharacteristic handling errors in the first half against a physical Fiji outfit who really should have had more points on the board by the time Gayle Broughton scored with the clock in red. Stacey Waaka increased New Zealand's lead but Asinate Savu, sin-binned just before Broughton's try for a late tackle, went over to ensure a nervous finish.
However, despite having possession for the crucial final minute, Fijiana could not pull off their first ever win over New Zealand, the series leaders relieved to escape 12-10.
The Black Ferns’ final pool match against Russia did not yield a point in the first half, as New Zealand and Russia failed to make the breakthrough after Stacey Waaka was adjudged to have made a double movement in grounding the ball. Alena Saili finally broke the deadlock a minute into the second half, with Gayle Broughton also crossing for a 12-0 victory.
In their defence, the Black Ferns are without a number of experienced players for this tournament, including regular captain Sarah Hiring, who was honoured with the Tom French Cup for outstanding Māori player of the year by NZ Rugby on Thursday night in Auckland.
The Black Ferns Sevens now face England in their cup quarter-final tonight at 9:56pm NZT. The other quarters see France play Russia, Australia play Fiji and Canada play the USA.