Stacey Waaka runs away to score the Black Ferns' first try (Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby)
It only took a matter of seconds for the Black Ferns to get their season off to a positive start at the World Series Sevens opening tournament in Dubai. New captain Tyla Nathan-Wong’s kickoff against Japan in the current World Series champions’ first game fell straight into the hands of Stacey Waaka, who scored a runaway try.
Theresa Fitzpatrick, Shakira Baker and Waaka again ran in tries for a 29-0 half-time lead. There was no let up after the break with Huia Harding getting a double and Alena Saili crossing to wrap up a 48-0 victory.
Meanwhile, the men had a comfortable win of their own against Wales later in the day.
Just like their female counterparts, they struck early. Tone Ng Shiu scored to take an early the lead with barely a minute on the clock before Kurt Baker quickly added a brace of his own for a 17-0 half-time lead. The second half was barely 30 seconds old when Ng Shui dotted down again with Ngarohi McGarvey-Black adding his own brace to make it 36-0 before a late consolation effort for Wales from Joe Goodchild.
In other men’s results, Australia beat Scotland 43-14, while heavyweights South Africa just pipped a strong Kenyan side 17-12. Series champions Fiji also had a tight game against Japan, getting home 24-17.
The Australian women were in good form too, beating Fiji 38-0, while the USA and France had big wins over Brazil and England respectively.
The three day tournament format meant that those were the only games that the sides played, which would have been a welcome relief as the temperature reached the high 20’s. The World Sevens Series has now integrated more of its tournaments to feature both men and women’s sides, including the upcoming Hamilton event in late January.