Australia defeats NZ to clinch gold

Australia became the first Olympic champion in women's rugby sevens when it ran out convincing 24-17 winner over New Zealand in the gold medal final at the Deodoro Stadium in Rio on Monday. Canada earlier took the bronze with a 33-10 victory over Britain.

Australian women celebrate their victory over New Zealand.   -  Getty Images

Australia became the first Olympic champion in women's rugby sevens when it ran out convincing 24-17 winner over trans-Tasman neighbour New Zealand in the gold medal final at the Deodoro Stadium in Rio on Monday.

The world series champion went behind early in the match but unanswered tries from Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite, Ellia Green and Charlotte Caslick gave them a lead New Zealand was unable to overcome. New Zealand, which had two tries from the outstanding Kayla McAlister and one at the death from Portia Woodman, performed a tearful haka in front of the crowd at the end of the match, their dreams of gold shattered.

It was the spell that Woodman, the top try scorer in the tournament with 10, spent in the sin-bin for a deliberate knock down around halftime that probably ended those hopes.

Without question the best two of the 12 teams in the tournament, both New Zealand and Australia had come through scares at the hands of the United States on Sunday to stamp their authority on the semifinals.

After a tight and physical start to the final, McAlister forced her way over in the corner for her sixth try of the tournament to give New Zealand an early lead before Tonegato hit back with her seventh.

Australia had started to find holes in the New Zealand defence and when Woodman was sent off for two minutes, first Pelite then speedster Green benefitted from the extra space to give the women in green and gold a 17-5 lead just after halftime.

Charlotte Caslick then nipped over for another converted try to further extend Australia's lead and although McAlister grabbed her second try, two converted scores for New Zealand in little more than a minute was always going to be a big ask.

Woodman did finally weave her way over to score under the posts but the hooter had sounded and Australia was already well into its celebrations when Tyla Nathan-Wong took the conversion. Canada earlier took the bronze with a 33-10 victory over Britain.

Rugby was last included at the Olympics in Paris in 1924 when the United States beat host France in the final of a men's 15-aside tournament.