The Qantas Australian Women's Sevens team has lined up a Cup Quarter-Final date with Spain after going undefeated on Day One at the Twickenham Stoop in London.
The Aussies beat Fiji (15-5) and China (31-0) before drawing against fast-improving USA (12-12) in the final Pool C clash of the day.
Qantas Australian Women's Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "We started off a bit rusty but we improved as the day went on. I really liked the way we progressed - there are a few things to work on but overall I'm happy with how we went today. All of the teams across the series are getting better and better and it is up to the teams at the top of the standings to pick up their game."
On the clash with Spain, who ended New Zealand's unbeaten 37-match streak in pool play in London, Walsh is under no illusions at the task at hand: "Spain's result against NZ was mind-boggling. I don't want them to upset us, so we have to make sure we prepare properly for what will be a tough game. I always say the Cup Quarter-Final of any tournament is the most important of the weekend and tomorrow will be no different."
Australia got their campaign off to a solid start after seeing off a resilient Fijian outfit. Ellia Green scored the only try of a tight first seven minutes after some patient play inside the opposition 22. Emilee Cherry eventually fed Green who crossed over for her 20th five-pointer of the season. After a period of sustained pressure, Asinate Ufia Savu levelled it up for the unpredictable Fijians and the game was in the balance. However, Tiana Penitani sent Amy Turner clear to restore the Aussies advantage before Charlotte Caslick rounded off a fine move that involved Penitani, Emma Tonegato and Amy Turner to seal a hard-fought win.
The green and gold secured their spot in tomorrow's Cup Quarter-Finals with a convincing display against China. Amy Turner opened the scoring when she spotted a gap 50m out before fine work from Gemma Etheridge saw her dot down for a five-pointer. It was then the Emma Tonegato show. First, an inside ball from Etheridge released the Wollongong-born centre who then broke free of two Chinese covering tackles to score. Tonegato then out-paced the entire Chinese rearguard as she scored from deep inside her own half. Amy Turner capped a busy game as she broke clear to put the icing on the cake.
In what proved to be arguably the game of the day, Australia secured top spot in Pool C after drawing with the USA in a keenly-fought contest with no quarter given. Akalaini Baravilala gave the Americans an early lead only for Shannon Parry to level up proceedings after a patient build-up. Lauren Doyle scored just before the half-time siren to restore the Eagles advantage, however, inspirational skipper Sharni Williams had the final say when she slalomned through the opposition defence to finish off a finely-executed set-piece move midway through the second half.
Elsewhere in tomorrow's Cup Quarter-Finals, series leaders New Zealand will play hosts England, in-form Canada take on Russia while the USA meet France.
The Australian Women's Sevens team currently sit third in the World Series standings, two points behind second-placed Canada. Only the top four countries at the end of the 2014/15 Women's Sevens World Series qualify automatically for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Day Two from the London Sevens will be broadcast on http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series/ from 7.30pm AEST, and FOX SPORTS will broadcast the Women's competition via the Red Button from 3.05am AEST.
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens results in London, England, 15-16 May:
Australia 15-5 Fiji, Pool C
Australia 31-0 China, Pool C
Australia 12-12 USA, Pool C
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens fixture in London, England, 16 May:
Australia v Spain, Cup Quarter-Final, 8.36pm AEST