The Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team’s tilt at the IRB World Series crown is alive and kicking after recording three wins out of three in the pool stage to progress to the Cup Quarter-Finals at the Amsterdam Sevens.
Australia qualified as top seeds from the opening day of the final round of the 2013/14 IRB Sevens World Series after three strong displays at the NRCA Stadium versus France, South Africa and Russia to set up a tie with Brazil on Saturday night (8.00pm AET). The winner will play Canada or the United States in the Cup Semi-Finals.
Captain Sharni Williams, outstanding throughout Day One and arguably the player of the day, led from the front time and again to provide the platform for Australia’s exciting back-line to deliver.
“Obviously our aim was to win three out of three in the pool stages, but we all know that tomorrow will be the hardest day. We’ve still got a lot to work to do as there were a few missed tackles in that final game which I’m sure we’ll review.
“It was a tough day. We didn’t know how South Africa would go and they came out pretty strong and physical. Against Russia we had to keep ball in hand and we managed to do that. It can be hard not to think of the second day but you’ve got to get the first part of the job done first.”
The 26-year-old added: “The weather’s been pretty good, it feels like we’re back home and the dry conditions suit our game.”
Tim Walsh’s side got its campaign underway with a convincing victory against France (24-5). Alicia Quirk profited from some quick-thinking from Charlotte Caslick to score under the posts after just a minute, before Amy Turner added a second. Series top points scorer Emilee Cherry then touched down and when Gemma Etheridge set Ellia Green away for yet another try, Australia had all but secured its first competition points in the Netherlands. Laurelinne Fourcade replied deep into the second half but it wasn't enough for the French.
In the side’s second fixture, South Africa were simply unable to cope with Sharni Williams' and Shannon Parry's dominance at the break down. A patient build-up set Emilee Cherry free, who showed an exhilarating turn of pace as she latched onto a Charlotte Caslick pass.
Parry scored her second try of the 2013/14 IRB Sevens World Series before Veroeshka Grain reduced the arrears for South Africa. A much-changed side in the second half scored two more tries as both Etheridge twins – Gemma and Nikki – scored under the posts to wrap up a 29-7 win.
In what was thought to be the toughest game of the pool stage, the Aussies turned on the style to outscore Russia six tries to one. Emma Tonegato (2), Sharni Williams, Shannon Parry and Ellia Green all scoring. Cobie-Jane Morgan put the icing on a dominant 36-5 win with a try after the full-time siren.
Elsewhere, in the final leg of the 2013/14 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series at the Amsterdam Sevens, title contenders New Zealand qualified as second seeds and will face off against Russia in the Cup Quarter-Finals. In the other Cup Quarter-Final, England – also unbeaten to date - play France.
Australia realistically needs to finish two places or above its Trans-Tasman rivals in Amsterdam if it is to secure its first ever IRB Sevens World Series crown.
Australian Women’s Sevens results in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 16-18 May:
Australia 24-5 France, Pool B
Australia 29-7 South Africa, Pool B
Australia 36-5 Russia, Pool B
Australian Women’s Sevens fixture in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 17 May:
Australia v Brazil, Cup Quarter-Final, (8.00pm EST)
Current 2013/14 IRB Women's Sevens World Series standings (top 4), with one leg of the series to go: 1. New Zealand (76 points), 2. Australia (74), 3. Canada (64), 4. England (46), 4. Russia (46)