Black Ferns ready for new winning streak after Kitakyushu defeat

By Michael Hudson

New Zealand Black Ferns Sevens skipper Sarah Hirini said the team are ready to put their disappointing Kitakyushu Sevens performance behind them and turn things around in the last two tournaments in the HSBC Women’s Rugby World Series.

Black Ferns Sevens arrived at Kitakyushu in red hot form having won all their previous games and consequently all tournaments in the World Series. But they were unable to maintain their high standards in Japan.

A draw with Russia in the pool games signalled the end of their winning streak. Their unbeaten run then came to an end when France overcame them 29-7. Another defeat to USA in the quarter-finals meant the best position the Black Ferns could finish was fifth, which they duly did after beating Australia.

Hirini said the team would have to learn from their disappointing performance and she had no doubt they would be able to turn things around.

“We’re going to take a lot of learnings from this,” Hirini told 1 NEWS. “The last time we lost, we went on a winning streak of 37 matches. The girls are going to go home, spend a bit of time with the family, but then we’ll be back on it for Canada in a couple of weeks.”

Hirini had a number of reasons for her side’s poor performance but singled out the fact that the team did not play to their full potential.

“There was a lot of things that were different. We hadn’t played for a very long time, we had a different squad to what we’d normally take – but that wasn’t any excuse to how we should have performed,” she said,

“We didn’t fulfil our potential, and that was probably the most disappointing thing.”

Their fifth-place finish allowed Canada to reduce the Black Ferns lead at the top of the world series standings. With only two tournaments remaining, Olympic qualification is guaranteed for the Black Ferns as they will finish in the top four at the end of the World Series.

New Zealand remain first in the HSBC Women’s Rugby World standings on 72 points after four tournaments, six points ahead of Canada and eight points clear of third-placed USA. Australia complete the top four with 56 points.

The Black Ferns Sevens are next in action in Canada on May 11-12.

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