Australia beats NZ 31-0 to win women's final at Sydney 7s

SYDNEY — Olympic champion Australia made history Sunday when it crushed New Zealand 31-0 in the women's final of the Sydney Rugby Sevens.

Australia beat New Zealand for the first time in five meetings since the Olympic final in Rio de Janiero in 2016 in which it beat its trans-Tasman rival to become the first women's gold medalist in rugby sevens.

Sunday's victory meant Australia became the first women's team to win its home tournament in the World Sevens Series, remaining unbeaten through six matches. It also completed the tournament without conceding a point, a feat unmatched by any team in the history of the women's and men's World Series.

Australia beat Spain 29-0, Papua New Guinea 50-0 and France 43-0 in pool matches. It then beat Spain, again, 29-0 in the quarterfinals and Russia 31-0 in the semis before its emphatic win over New Zealand in the final.

Australia's rugged defense also set the tone for the final. It jarred the New Zealanders in tackles, loosening passes, and made it impossible for the defending world champions to play their usual fluent style.

Australia, in contrast, pounced on every loose ball and turned half chances into tries.

Shannon Parry opened the scoring when Australia's defense forced a turnover five meters from the New Zealand line. Charlotte Caslick then darted from a ruck for her eighth try of the tournament and Australia took a 10-0 lead to halftime.

An attempted New Zealand rally was quickly thwarted after halftime when Ellia Green linked with Emilee Cherry on a break which brought Australia's third try and Evania Pelite crossed to make it 24-0 three minutes from fulltime.

Emma Sykes clinched the win with a try under the posts in the final seconds.

"It was a tough battle out there but I'm proud of us," Parry said. "We know off the back of a good defense we're going to win tournaments.

"It's a great way to start 2018 and we're looking forward to the Commonwealth Games and then the World Cup in San Francisco."

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