A year ago, Australia, in front of their home fans, dished out a humbling 31-0 thrashing to New Zealand in the Cup final. The Black Ferns haven’t lost a game of sevens since.
“Last year, we suffered our biggest defeat ever here and got a good smack on the bum and good learnings from that. So we’re quite thankful for that now. What it did for us was really vital and we’re not sour about it,” says New Zealand Women’s sevens coach Allan Bunting.
Yeah, we bet the Black Ferns Sevens are not sour about it. They will be going all out to blow the hosts out of the water if they meet, perhaps in the final, at the Sydney Sevens.
New Zealand will play England, France and Papua New Guinea in Friday’s Pool games, while Australia’s opponents will be United States, China and Spain. The third pool comprises Canada, Russia, Ireland and Fiji.
The Black Ferns Sevens won the opening two legs this season in Glendale and Dubai and top the standings with a maximum 40 points. Canada and the United States split the Trans-Tasman rivals with 34 and 32 points respectively, with Australia fouth on 28.
— Black Ferns (@BlackFerns) January 29, 2019
New Zealand are match-fit and ready. Last weekend they hosted, and won, the inaugural Fast Four exhibition tournament which included England, France and China. This was played alongside the Men’s Hamilton leg. Australia opted to remain at their Sydney training base.
The 2016 Rio Olympic champions, Australia, are not dwelling on their perfect campaign last year in Sydney when they scored 213 points without conceding a single point. Despite hanging on to win the World title later last year, Australia haven’t beaten New Zealand since, losing a thrilling Commonwealth Games final and missing a Worl Cup rematch when stunned by France in the semis.
The Aussies return missing a slew of players out with injury – Shannon Perry, Charlotte Caslick and Demi Hayes while Emilee Cherry is pregnant.The return of Emma Tonegato from her second shoulder operation is some solace.
“Last year feels like so long ago. It’s a new season, a new team and we are just focused on qualifying for the Olympics (by finishing in the top four in the world series),” Tonegato was quoted in the Australian media.