VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Australia has prevented another New Zealand sweep of men’s and women’s titles on the World Rugby Sevens circuit, beating the New Zealand men 17-7 Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Vancouver Sevens.
The New Zealand men and women have won both titles at the last two combined tournaments in Hamilton and Sydney. Both teams lead their series but Australia’s win on Saturday may cut the New Zealand men’s overall advantage which stands at 22 points.
After winning their last three tournaments, the New Zealand women led their series by 12 points and after reaching the semifinals are likely to stay in first place.
Australia will now play France in the men’s semifinals on Sunday while Argentina will play Ireland. France beat Great Britain 15-7 in its quarterfinal while Argentina beat Olympic champion Fiji 19-14 and Ireland beat the United States 15-10.
Australia took an early lead in its quarterfinal with a try to Henry Paterson. New Zealand replied with a try to Ngarohi McGarvey-Black but Darby Lancaster’s try and a second to Paterson sealed Australia’s win.
After impressive form in their group in which they beat Colombia 60-0, Great Britain 43-7 and Fiji 24-7, the New Zealand women had to work hard to beat hosts Canada 10-5 in the quarterfinals.
Tries to Portia Woodman-Wickliffe and Mikaela Blyde gave New Zealand a 10-0 lead at halftime but Canada rallied strongly in the second half, roared on by a capacity crowd.
An 11th minute try to Keyara Wardley went unconverted but still put New Zealand under intense pressure. Down to six players after a sin-binning, New Zealand had to hold out near its goal-line for much of the last few minutes as Canada attacked relentlessly.
A knock-on gave New Zealand a late possession but Canada’s vigorous defense still prevented the Kiwis from getting away from their line. When the fulltime siren finally sounded, Sarah Hirini was relieved to kick the ball out of play and end match to the boos of the crowd.
New Zealand will play France and the United States will play Australia in Sunday's semifinals.
Australia beat Fiji 29-5, France beat Ireland 12-10 and the United States beat Great Britain 24-5 in other quarterfinals.
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