Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Sports

Olympics-Rugby-New Zealand claim Sevens gold with victory over France

By Mayu Sakoda

TOKYO (Reuters) -New Zealand claimed their first ever gold medal in Olympic Rugby Sevens with a 26-12 victory over France in the final of the women’s competition at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.

Fiji earlier followed up their gold in the men’s competition with a bronze in the women’s event, defeating Britain 21-12 in the third-place play-off, having narrowly lost a pulsating semi-final against New Zealand.

New Zealand won the silver medal at the Olympics five years ago, and another silver in the men’s competition in Tokyo, but finally they have their gold as they lived up to their billing as top seeds in the competition.

They controlled possession from the kick-off of the final and got their reward when captain Sarah Hirini released the speedy Michaela Blyde to score the opening try.

But France hit back through Caroline Drouin as she raced through an uncharacteristically large hole in the Black Ferns’ defence for an unconverted score.

New Zealand’s pace was creating space in wide areas, however, and Gayle Broughton managed to dive over in the corner, before Stacey Fluhler carved through the French defence to give her side a 19-5 halftime lead.

Anne-Cecile Ciofani kept France in the contest with a try after two minutes of the second half, but New Zealand restored their 14-point advantage when Tyla Nathan-Wong crossed between the posts.

Fiji struck first in the bronze-medal match when Alowesi Nakoci crossed under the posts early before they soaked up pressure inside their own 22 from Britain for a full four minutes with some excellent defence.

When the Pacific islanders were finally able to break out with quick hands on the right wing, Nakoci raced in for a second score, before Megan Jones dotted down for Britain to make it 14-5.

The game was made safe for Fiji when Reapi Ulunisau burst through a gap in the Britain defence and streaked away for a try, though Jones grabbed her second to reduce the deficit to nine points.

It is a second successive fourth-place finish at the Olympics for the British women after they also lost the bronze-medal match in 2016.

(Writing by Nick Said; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Hugh Lawson)

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