Aussie women’s team lose Singapore Sevens final to NZ, sweat on star’s fitness ahead of Olympics


The Australian women’s Sevens team have fallen just short of being crowned regular-season champions, losing 31-21 to New Zealand in the Singapore Sevens final.

In a double dose of pain too, Tim Walsh’s side will be sweating on the fitness of star playmaker Madison Ashby after the 23-year-old suffered what appeared to be a serious knee-injury.

Despite missing four regulars for the tournament, including captain and gold medallists Charlotte Caslick and Sharni Smale, Australia progressed through to the final after winning a tight semi-final over France.

Walsh’s side then took a 14-12 lead over the Black Ferns at half-time after tries to Maddison Levi and Isabella Nasser, before Ashby went down after making a tackle on New Zealand star Jorja Miller early in the second half. The pain was written all over her face as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Michaela Blyde cuts through the Australia defence during New Zealand’s win in the HSBC SVNS final at National Stadium on 5 May, 2024 in Singapore. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Without their interim captain, as well as Lily Dick and Sariah Paki, Australia lacked the experience and composure to stick with their trans-Tasman rivals as Michaela Blyde ran in to score her third try.

New Zealand then showed no mercy for Australia, with Portia Woodman-Wickliffe and Stacey Waaka also scoring second-half tries.

Another Blyde masterclass ????

A hat-trick in the final ????#HSBCSVNS | #HSBCSVNSSGP | @nz_sevens

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) May 5, 2024

Levi then continued her fine tournament, scoring her second of the match to add some respectability to the scoreboard.  

Despite the 10-point defeat, Walsh praised his side for their courage and skill throughout the tournament where they managed to deal with the absence of several of their usual stars.

“A quality tournament and performance to be proud of. The girls were courageous, ruthless, and skilful,” Walsh said.

“Madison Ashby led the team with consistency and conviction. Faith Nathan was electric and the whole team contributed with roles.”

Walsh, however, will be sweating on the fitness of Ashby.

Although the playmaker has been shown a few red cards across the tournament, Ashby’s pace and skill has her amongst the elite players in the world.

She acts as the perfect foil for regular skipper Caslick, allowing Australia a one-two punch to unleash Levi and Nathan.

In better news, Nasser continued her rise with her physicality and prowess on both sides of the ball shining in the absence of Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea.

Australia is sweating on the fitness of Madison Ashby ahead of the Olympics. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

On the men’s side, New Zealand smashed Australia in the semi-finals 28-12 before going on to edge out Ireland 17-14 in the final.

John Manenti’s side then were hammered 26-7 by Great Britain after failing to capitalise on some early opportunities.

But without regular playmakers Maurice Longbottom and Matthew Gonzalez, Manenti will see their top four finish in Singapore as a step forward.

“It was another tight tournament with plenty to be proud of. The courage to play with a three-man bench for four games ultimately took its toll,” Manenti said.

“Our attack was on point most of the weekend with Dietrich Roache and Hayden Sargeant having great performances.

“Debutant Teddy Wilson also made a great impression before suffering a head knock. We’ll recover and be better for Madrid.”

Meanwhile, the Marcos Moneta-less Argentina claimed their maiden World Series title after beating South Africa 14-10 South Africa in the fifth-placed play-off.

While Los Pumas struggled over the past two tournaments without their electric speedster, who has emerged as the world’s best sevens player in recent seasons, the South Americans still managed to hold on to secure the tournament.

The moment Argentina made history ????

Becoming 2024 League Winners ????#HSBCSVNS | #HSBCSVNSSGP | @lospumas7arg

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) May 5, 2024

Argentina finished on top of the rankings with 106 points, followed by Ireland (104), NZ (93) and Australia (83).

Australia’s Sevens teams are back in action in Madrid for the SVNS Grand Final from May 31-June 2 – their final tournament of the season before the Olympics.

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