Women's 7s tournament preview

by Jill Scanlon

On Friday, the Aussie 7s Women will host the top eleven international teams at Allianz stadium for the first Women’s World Series tournament to be held in Australia.

It is the second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series and the 12 team two-day fixture will see Australia looking to reclaim top spot in the world standings after close rival, New Zealand, got the better of them in Dubai in early December.

This rivalry has seen many battles in many finals over recent years with these two teams constantly securing the top two placings in any tournament they enter.

There is therefore an expectation that this will be the way things unfold over the next two days at Sydney 7s.

Australian captain Sharni Williams poses with the trophy alongside Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Goss. Photo: Getty Images. Aussie co-captain Sharni Williams is expecting it to be a big occasion for the home team, both on and off the field.

“We go out there and we play and have fun and we do it for each other, we do it for our country.

Getting to play on home soil and represent your country gives you that extra added value and with the crowd – it’s going to be amazing,” said Williams.

However, Sevens is an unpredictable game and the teams nipping at the heels of the top two will be expecting to put up a good fight.

Canada welcomes the return of key playmaker Jen Kish, while Russia continues to be the team to constantly surprise its opposition.

Fijiana is never to be discounted, improving with every outing.

The Irish are back, having just 12 months ago experienced what a Sydney crowd can be like, when they took on the Aussies in an exhibition series at Allianz Stadium. So how will this play out across two action packed days in Sydney?

POOL A

New Zealand, Canada, France, PNG

New Zealand outplayed Australia in the final of the first leg of the Women’s Series in Dubai.

So for all intents and purposes it is the team to chase in Sydney.

All Black Ferns captain Sarah Goss believes her team has even more improvement in them.

“For us it is about continuing with the same game plan but we want to just keep getting better,” she said.

Goss believes the crowd will be a positive for them in more ways than one.

“We’re just excited to be in Sydney, it’s like our home tournament as well,” she said.

“I know a lot of the girls have got family coming over and we want to be doing well with them watching us play.”

Canada, France and newcomer PNG will be working hard to unsettle the Kiwis but Canada will want to have undergone a similar epiphany to its male counterparts over the long break to improve on its uncharacteristic sixth place finish after round one.

And while PNG has earned the right to be in among this elite list, it is very much in its infancy on the world stage but will benefit immeasurably for the experience.

POOL B

Australia, Fiji, Ireland, Brazil

Australia will of course be out to contest the number one standing of New Zealand and will have massive public support in doing so.

The Olympic gold medallists and current World Series champions are in fact the favourites by every other measure going into this contest.

The Aussies welcome back speedster Ellia Green and key playmaker Vani Pelite which will only intensify its versatile attack.

The opposition the Aussies will face on Day One from Fiji, Ireland and Brazil, will be worthy and intense.

The Irish performed well in Dubai, taking the Challenge Trophy in a close contest over Spain.

They will have learned a lot in 12 months and will be looking to offer a much stronger contest to the Aussies.

Fijiana is always good value and a worthy opponent, creating uncertainty in any opposition due to its unpredictability on any given day.

With a large number of its players having recently tasted success playing for the champion Makosoi team in the popular Fiji Coral Coast Sevens tournament, their tails are up and they are ready to position themselves well for Day Two.

POOL C

Russia, England, Spain, USA

This group may prove to be the most intriguing when you consider in the opening round, Russia played England in the third place playoff and Spain only lost to Ireland in the Trophy final by two points.

The USA would seem to be the dark horse here as it sits uncharacteristically in 11th place but will no doubt be looking to set that first round blip as an anomaly and move on.

Play begins at 12.00 noon (AEDT) on Friday with England and Spain the first teams to kick off the action at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Australia takes on Brazil in its first Pool game at 1.06pm (AEDT) and will be fully focused on making a good start to the tournament.

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