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Hinds’ heroics leads Australia to famous semi-final win over New Zealand

By Finn Morton
Australia Women celebrate on day three of the HSBC SVNS Grand Final at Stadium Civitas Metropolitano on 2 June, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

With less than one minute to play in a blockbuster semi-final in Madrid, Australia set up for a kick-off against arch-rivals New Zealand. Tia Hinds had just slotted a clutch conversion to make it a five-point game as the clock ticked closer to full-time.

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Hinds was called upon once again to take the restart, and the 21-year-old executed that moment to perfection by putting in on a dime for former AFLW forward Maddison Levi. Levi rose above Black Ferns Sevens players to bat the ball back into the Aussies’ favour.

Thousands of fans at Civitas Metropolitano cheered and screamed as the thrilling match between the two top teams from the regular season went down to the wire. Australia threw the ball around but their Kiwis stood tall in defence for quite some time.

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But in the end, as is often the case on the SVNS Series, Maddison Levi scored a decisive try which levelled the contest at 19-all. While there was a ball placed on the halfway line ready for a kick-off, both teams waited to see if extra time was needed.

Hinds was once again faced with a moment to shine. After being handed the ball near the left sideline, the Sydneysider lined up a shot at destiny with a spot in the Grand Final’s big dance potentially mere moments away.

What happened next will go down in history as a moment of greatness for the young Australian. Hinds kicked the ball and almost immediately threw her hands into the air in triumph before the rest of the Australians rushed over and swarmed their match-winner.

“Just get it over the black dot. That’s all I was thinking about. Yeah, pretty stoked I got it over,” Hinds told RugbyPass & SVNS Series.

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“Hard to breathe actually. Everyone was piled over. We’re a great bunch of girls and we all just get around each other and it was a great moment to have.

“Those opportunities don’t always come around. It’s a lot of mental preparation. I think about those moments quite a bit and just that training, getting to practice those ones and then finally when it does come you hope you can execute.

“Smiles all round. The girls are really happy and I’m just happy that I could do that for the girls.”

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Australia hadn’t beaten New Zealand since the SVNS Perth quarter-finals in January. They’ve had to wait more than 125 days for this moment, and that’s include defeats in the Los Angeles, Hong Kong China and Singapore Cup finals, but they’ve struck gold when it counts.

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With this Grand Final in Madrid being a winner-takes-all event, New Zealand’s League success is a talking point but it’s not enough to see them crowned ‘champions.’ Whoever wins the event in Spain’s capital will rise to the top of the rugby sevens world.

New Zealand were stunned by Canada on day two in Madrid, which saw them cross paths with the Aussies in the knockout stage. Tim Walsh’s Australian side had recorded a few really promising wins on the opening day and a half.

It was a tense start to this contest. Australia seemed to have all the ball but New Zealand’s defence was relentless. Eventually, it was the Kiwis who struck first with Mahina Paul breaking through just before half-time.

They traded tries from there with Australia’s Faith Nathan running away for a score in the eighth minute, and then Jorja Miller magic laid the foundations for captain Risi Pouri-Lane to score shortly after.

Portia Woodman-Wickliffe seemed to leave New Zealand with one foot in the final with a five-pointer in the 11th minute, but the Aussies hit back through Nathan and then Maddison Levi in the 16th minute.

Enter Tia Hinds.

“The Kiwis are always a tough opposition and it’s a really good battle against them, you never know what’s going to happen in the game so it’s good to get one up on them,” Hinds explained.

“We’re stoked with the win but there’s still a lot of learnings… It definitely wasn’t our best game and we’ve still got a while until the final so we’ll reflect on where we can improve there and put it into the next game and hopefully get the win there.

“We just spoke about our attack. The Kiwis didn’t press up as much as we thought and we were just kind of chain passing and not doing much with the ball, so just going back and working on that so hopefully our attack will improve.”

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action live and free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

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