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‘We hate losing’: Black Ferns Sevens eager to make amends in Cape Town

By Finn Morton
Portia Woodman-Wickliffe of New Zealand looks on during the 2023 HSBC Sevens match between the United States and New Zealand at FMG Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

Not long after full-time at Dubai’s The Sevens Stadium last Sunday, the broadcast cameras quickly panned to Black Ferns Sevens star Portia Woodman-Wickliffe.

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Woodman-Wickliffe’s face said it all as New Zealand’s incredible 41-game unbeaten run on the SVNS circuit came to a heartbreaking end at the hands of fierce rivals Australia.

Led by captain Charlotte Caslick and Player of the Final Teagan Levi, the women in gold defended their Dubai SVNS crown from last season with a hard-fought 26-19 win in the desert.

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With the Cape Town SVNS kicking off a week later, New Zealand wouldn’t have to wait long for their shot at redemption – not that it would’ve felt like that to them though.

One 10-hour flight later, as well as a series of gruelling training sessions and nights in the Western Cape, the Black Ferns Sevens were one of the first two teams to run out onto the main field in South Africa.

With the agonising memories of losing and disappointment still fresh in their mind, the New Zealanders got their Cape Town SVNS campaign underway with a big win over Great Britain.

“It’s massive. We hate losing and we hate losing to Australia especially because they’re the best team in the world, one of the best teams in the world,” Woodman-Wickliffe told RugbyPass.

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“To come out here and perform like that, we just wanted to stamp our mark right from the get-go.”

Two-time Sevens Player of the Year Michaela Blyde opened the scoring in just the first minute for the women in black, and it was all one-way traffic from there as they ran away with a commanding 37-5 win.

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Blyde added another five points to the score during the second term, as well as Jazmin Felix-Hotham, Stacey Waaka and Shiray Kaka.

Woodman-Wickliffe was the only other try-scorer during the first half, with the SVNS veteran crossing for a redeeming double in the space of two minutes.

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“Happy with that. For me I just wanted to start better than last week – dropping a couple of balls, I was not happy with that,” Woodman-Wickliffe added.

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