HSBC SVNS 2024: Brazil stun Ireland as New Zealand begin title defence in style

We recap all the women's action from the first day of HSBC SVNS Vancouver 2024 as New Zealand start fast, Brazil beat Ireland and Spain end their losing run.

A brace of tries from Thalia Costa saw Brazil stun Perth gold medallists Ireland in Pool A, with defending HSBC SVNS Vancouver champions New Zealand scoring 11 tries to go two from two.

Elsewhere, Australia were back to winning ways despite unconvincing performances, and Spain ended a 25-game losing run with victory over Great Britain.

New Zealand top Pool A going into Day 2, Australia and the USA are all square at the Pool B summit and France lead the way in Pool C.

Pool A: New Zealand start strong and Brazil shock Ireland

New Zealand sauntered to a 40-7 victory over Brazil in their opening game to start their Vancouver title defence, thanks to a trio of braces from Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, Shiray Kaka and Michaela Blyde. Against South Africa it was much of the same, Michaela Blyde going over for another brace as a tense first half dissipated into four-try dominance from the reigning champions.

Perth gold medallists Ireland carried the momentum from their stunning win over Australia into their first game with South Africa, leading 14-0 at the break before scoring two more to seal a 28-7 victory. Nadine Roos crossed for the Blitzboks’ only try.

A win against Brazil should have been routine for Ireland – they hadn't lost to the South Americans since 2017 and had won their last 17 games on the bounce. Brazil, however, had other ideas, Bianca Silva’s early try followed up by a brace from Thalia Costa either side of half time. Ireland's best efforts at a comeback were ended by Stacey Flood’s yellow card, Brazil left to celebrate a 24-7 victory.

Pool B: Australia back to winning ways

Just as they had in Perth, Fiji had the honour of playing in the opening game of the weekend, a frantic first six minutes seeing three tries and a yellow for Fiji’s Ilisapeci Delaiwau. Sammy Sullivan’s try put the USA 14-12 in front at the break and scored two more to hold on for a 21-17 win.

Japan gave Australia a scare in their opening game and led 5-0 at half time, but the SVNS 2024 series leaders scored two tries in two minutes in the second half, just about holding on for a 12-10 win. Japan continued their form against the USA, drawing within two points at 14-12 with a few minutes to go before two quick tries from the Americans sealed their second win in Vancouver.

Australia hadn’t quite shaken off the cobwebs in their second game against Fiji either, an early error opening the door for Reapi Ulunisau to score. Sharni Smale and Dominique Du Toit crossed before the break to give them some breathing room, Faith Nathan’s searing pace and Du Toit solo show of strength taking them 26-12 clear. Their showdown with the USA tomorrow will decide the pool winner. 

Pool C: Spain end long wait for victory

17-year-old Juana Stella sealed a 19-12 win for Spain over Great Britain, their first pool victory of the HSBC SVNS 2024 series. After denying Kayleigh Powell early on, Anne Fernández De Corres turned defence into attack to score, Paula Requena adding their second. Ellie Boatman’s pace gave Great Britain hope, but Stella’s try sealed victory for the bottom seed.

Séraphine Okemba’s brace helped a dominant France side scored beat Canada in their first hit-out against Canada. After trailing 19-0 at the break, Chloe Daniels and Charity Williams both pulled one back for the host nation, but France's third from Anne-Cécile Ciofani secured a 26-14 victory for the Cape Town silver medallists.

The two winners faced each other in Round 2, and it was France that took the 19-7 victory over Spain thanks to two first half tries and an 80-metre effort from Ciofani in the second. 

In the final game of Pool C, Canada strode to victory against Great Britain, a dominant 24-0 half time lead extended to 38-0 by the final whistle, lifting the home nation to second in the table.