Sevens: Black Ferns beat Australia in Canada final, secure Olympic qualification

The Black Ferns Sevens have bounced back from last month's disappointment in Japan to claim their third consecutive Canada Sevens title.

New Zealand overcame Australia to win Monday's (NZT) final 21-17, in a repeat of last year's showpiece.

Twelve months ago, the Ferns destroyed Australia 46-0 in the final, but the Olympic champions proved a tougher proposition this time round in a physical match at Westhills Stadium in Langford, British Columbia.

Australia opened the scoring through Ellia Green, but New Zealand didn't take long to respond with two quick tries, as captain Sarah Hirini and Niall Williams crossed the line to make it a 14-5 game.

But the brave Australians scored right on halftime to make it 14-10 at the break.

Australia had the ball early in the second half and threatened to regain the lead, but a mistake gave New Zealand possession and the defending champions made them pay, when Tyla Nathan-Wong scored the Black Ferns' third.

In the final minute, a wayward pass from Williams was picked off by Green to set up a frantic finish.

But from the ensuing restart, the referee ruled Australia knocked the ball on and New Zealand held on for the narrow win.

The result capped off a great weekend for the Ferns, who earlier on day two secured their spot at next year's Tokyo Olympics, when they beat Spain 17-7 in the quarter-finals.

Hirini was delighted to learn New Zealand had booked their ticket to Tokyo with one tournament remaining in France next month.

"It has been our goal all season and we wanted to secure that early on," said Hirini.

"To do it here in Canada takes some pressure off us, but we want to continue our good form and get those small gains in every game."

The top four teams in the overall standings automatically qualify for the Olympics.

New Zealand then overcame a six-woman USA side 26-12 in the semi-finals after Alev Kelter was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Ruby Tui during the first half.

Michaela Blyde, who missed the quarter-final win over Spain through injury, scored the game's opening try, before Kelly Brazier scored his first career hat-trick.

On day one, the Kiwis were too good for Russia and China in their opening two matches, winning 26-7 and 45-0, before scraping past England 12-10 to top their pool.

The Langford Sevens have been played since 2015, and New Zealand have now won four of the five titles.

The Black Ferns have won four of the five tournaments so far this year, with victories at Glendale, Dubai, and Sydney, Their only blimp was in Kitakyushu last month, when they lost in the quarter-finals to finish fifth.

The final leg on the women's circuit takes place on June 15-16 in Biarritz in France