HSBC SVNS 2024: Black Ferns Sevens claim second Hong Kong title in a row

We recap the final day of the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens as New Zealand win their third consecutive HSBC SVNS 2024 series gold.

New Zealand beat USA 36-7 to lift the trophy at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, their third consecutive gold taking them above Australia to the top of the HSBC SVNS series standings.

Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick as the Black Ferns Sevens proved too strong for a USA side making their first final appearance of the season with a relentless 19-5 victory over France in the semi-final.

Australia had earlier lost to their trans-Tasman rivals 28-14 in the last four, but pulled off a thrilling 24-21 comeback win over France to take bronze. They now sit equal with New Zealand in the series standings on 106 points, but drop to second on points difference. 

Elsewhere, Great Britain beat Brazil 14-5 to cement eighth spot in the series standings and their hopes of making the Grand Final in Brazil, while Japan beat Ireland 12-5 with a late score for a season-best finish of seventh.

New Zealand win third gold in a row

Jorja Miller got the first points of the gold-medal match, bursting through on an outside break to score under the sticks for seven points. That lead was extended to 12 as the lethal Michaela Blyde couldn’t be stopped in the left corner.

The USA’s problems were compounded when Steph Rovetti was shown yellow for a tackle in the air, allowing Blyde to score an almost identical second. But there was hope on the stoke of half-time, Ilona Maher’s break finished by Alex Sedrick to make the score 17-7 at half time.

Blyde’s third in the second-half all-but secured New Zealand’s win, but Mahina Paul’s score cemented it, taking their lead to 29-7. Paul found a gap once more as the clock went into the red as New Zealand became Hong Kong champions for the second year in a row. 

In the semi-finals: New Zealand beat Australia, USA overhaul France

In only their fifth-ever semi-final meeting Australia who pounced first, a ball spilled by New Zealand picked up and finished by the series’ leading try scorer Maddison Levi.

New Zealand got on the scoreboard thanks to a cruising break from Jorja Miller through the middle, finished off by support runner Michaela Blyde, but Australia replied almost immediately as Charlotte Caslick powered towards the South Stand for her first try of the tournament. New Zealand, however, had one more effort in them before the break, Risi Pouri-Lane equalling the scores at 14-14.

The Black Ferns Sevens took the upper hand in the second half. Portia Woodman-Wickliffe finished off a team score as Australia’s attack faltered in pursuit of an equaliser. Miller crossed under the sticks as the full-time hooter went to complete their route to the final.

Alev Kelter opened the scoring for the US against France after two minutes, stealing the ball from French hands to put the fourth seeds ahead early. France eventually hit back through Chloe Jacquet, but the US would take a seven-point lead into the break after Ilona Maher’s pace was too much for France in open field.  

Fatigue set in for both sides in the second-half, an unyielding period that saw the US trapped inside their own 22. But France were unable to capitalise with ball in hand.

Sammy Sullivan emptied her lungs for an all-important try-saving tackle, and with possession back with the US, a cross field kick found space on the right wing for substitute Jaz Gray to use her fresh legs to go the full length for a 19-5 victory.

Bronze final: Australia win thriller against France

From 21-7 down, the SVNS series leaders scored three late tries to claim a remarkable bronze. Australia had come out firing, Madison Ashby scoring the game’s opener, but France were on top either side of half time, Valentine Lothoz making it seven a-piece before Joanna Grisez doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time as she looped off the back of the scrum.

France fired again after the break in the second, Chloe Jacquet’s dancing feet helping her under the sticks to take the score to 21-7. Australia needed to reply, Bridget Clark used her pace to come up with the first big moment. Maddison Levi brought the second, drawing Australia level with a brutal hand off on Grisez to score around the French defence. It was Levi again who crowned the victory, finishing off a team try to clinch third place.