The Black Ferns Sevens’ 41-game winning streak has ended after they were pipped in the final of the Dubai Sevens, the opening event of the rugby sevens series, after going down to Australia in a thriller.
Jorja Miller scored a hat-trick for New Zealand in the final but a Maddison Levi try in the final minute saw Australia secure a 26-19 victory over their great rivals.
Australia’s women were the last team to beat New Zealand a year ago in the Dubai final, and repeated the feat.
The game was decided in the last two minutes. Two penalties against New Zealand gave Australia the launch pad to get Levi across to break a 19-19 deadlock.
Levi’s try was her 12th, breaking her own single tournament record from Dubai last year. Then Australia’s defense in its 22 had to force a New Zealand knock-on to secure the series-opening title.
Australia scored only 23 seconds into the final when Bienne Terita stepped Tenika Willison and sprinted 80 meters.
Then Miller scored twice in two minutes, the second from a brilliant offload by Michaela Blyde.
But Australia went into halftime 14-12 ahead after Teagan Levi scored and converted a long-range try she started by forcing a ruck turnover.
Teagan Levi scored again straight after the break after a Terita break but Miller’s hat-trick try tied the score going into the last two minutes.
Earlier, New Zealand booked a place in the women’s final after a 21-19 semifinal victory over Canada with Miller saving the Black Ferns Sevens with a try in the 13th minute.
The All Blacks Sevens finished third after their title hopes ended with a 21-19 semifinal defeat to Argentina. New Zealand were leading 19-7 before Argentina stormed home with two late tries. South Africa won a fifth straight Dubai title when it beat Argentina 12-7 in the final under acting coach Philip Snyman while the All Blacks Sevens finished with a win over Fiji in the third place playoff.
South Africa’s fifth Dubai title in a row tied the series record for most consecutive titles at one site equaling Fiji’s five in Hong Kong from 2015-19.
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