Sydney Sevens Day One: As it happened

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The inaugural Women's Sydney Sevens is finally here! Stay tuned to rugby.com.au for all of the day one action.

8:10pm - That's a wrap!

We're done and dusted for the first day of the Sydney Sevens and there's been no shortage of surprises out at Allianz Stadium. Russia has proven to be the surprise packet of the tournament so far, topping its pool by flogging England, USA and Spain. Australia has ticked off the first challenge of a home tournament and though it wasn't a perfect day for them, three wins is what they came for and it's what they left with. A quarter-final date with Fiji tomorrow looms as one of the highlights of the schedule after their thrilling last match today. Two days of sold out crowds to come. Switch on and tune in to what's sure to be an eventful weekend.

Just one more thing before you go, though. Meet Team Tonegato!


8:04pm - Full-time New Zealand 31 - Canada 5

New Zealand have finished the day with a comprehensive win over Canada, securing top spot in Pool A and a rematch with France tomorrow morning.

The quarter-final matchups are confirmed. All Cup quarters will be played over the road at Kippax Oval - going to be packed out, I reckon, after what we've seen today.

New Zealand vs France - 10am AEDT

Ireland vs USA - 10:22am AEDT

Australia vs Fiji - 10:44am AEDT

Russia vs Canada - 11:06am AEDT

7:59pm - Aussies pleased with perfect record

Australia co-captain Shannon Parry spoke to the media after the home side's win over Fiji to end a perfect afternoon.

The 26-17 win over Fiji was a little too close for comfort but Shannon Parry is just happy the Aussie Women’s Sevens side have come through the pool matches with a perfect 3-0 record.

The Women’s Sevens stalwart said the the team would need to improve defensively if they are to advance further than tomorrow’s rematch with Fiji in the quarter finals.

“Fiji is a funny opposition, they play very similar to the Men’s in that they’re so hard to defend with their offload game so you have to make your tackles and you can’t give them that offload channel,” she said.

“They’re a team that are big and physical and we were probably a step off the pace in that game so we are happy we came away with the win in the end.

“We have to work harder in defense and harder in attack in re-loading and getting that front foot ball - when we do get those turnovers we need to get it in the space and get it to the speed.”

A capacity crowd is expected at SFS tomorrow, an added bonus for the Women’s team that have openly admitted they are feeling the pressure to lift the Cup on home soil as reigning Olympic Gold Medallists.

“Home tournament is an added bonus and I think we will get that added exhilaration from the crowd once we take to the field,” Parry said.

“Day One is behind us, that’s a tick for us and now we are just charging ahead for that quarter final tomorrow.

- Sam Phillips

7:41pm - Half-time New Zealand 17 - Canada 0

Tries to Kiwi stars Portia Woodman and Kelly Brazier have put them in front of the race to top Pool A, with Canada unable to get off the scoreboard early, putting them in line to face France in the quarters tomorrow.

7:43pm - Full-time France 31 - PNG 10

A 21-point win to France means they're in the quarters and will meet the winner of New Zealand and Canada in their quarter-final.

Forgive the author inception, but this is the quarter-final lineup as it stands.


 

7:41pm - What's the equation?

Australia will take on the best third-placed team, which at this point looks like Fiji. Coming into this match, Fiji had a points differential of +6, England were on -25 and France were on -23, needing a 30-point win over PNG to claim the top third spot. With PNG scoring their second try of the match, they sliced the margin to just 16 points, putting Fiji on a collision course with the Aussies.

7:33pm Halftime France 19 - PNG 5

PNG putting up a strong fight against France and it's not what the French need, as they vie for a quarter-final spot. Fiji is currently sitting as best third place finisher, on points difference, shaping up for a rematch with Australia in the quarter-final.

7:24pm No danger...


 

7:21pm Full-time Australia 26 - Fiji 17

A yellow card for Fiji handed Australia a one-player advantage and Evania Pelite took it from there. The speedster created a burst of attack and handed it off slightly early, with Fiji halting their momentum. She retrieved it once more, to go over for her second try of the day, putting the Aussies up by four points. Ellia Green caps off the win with a superb blitz, scoring in the left corner. Australia will top its pool and face 

7:16pm - Fiji escape

Lavenia Tinai has scored an unbelievable try for Fiji, escaping the clutches of Tiana Penitani, who may have dived for the tackle just a touch too early. Emilee Cherry took up the chase but couldn't catch Tinai, as the Fijians went three points ahead with just under four minutes to go.

7:06pm - Half-time Australia 14 - Fiji 10

Emilee Cherry played smart rugby to score for the Aussies. Photo: Getty ImagesAustralia's defence was tested against a Fiji barrage but impressive defensive efforts from Charlotte Caslick, Ellia Green and Evania Pelite stopped a near-certain try opportunity. The World and Olympic champions turned it around in their favour and, despite a few fumbles, Emilee Cherry finished off their work for her third try of the day. Fiji didn't give up the fight, with an opportunistic try in the final play.

7:02pm - Fiji strikes first

Fiji has notched the first try in Australia's final match of the Sydney Sevens day one. Australia has already secured its final eight cup spot and top spot in the pool, but momentum will be a handy ally for them in this tournament. Chloe Dalton stuck back for the Aussies in the fourth minute and converted her own spectacular try to give the home side the lead.

6:58pm - Full-time - Ireland 33 - Brazil 5

Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe had a hat-trick for Ireland. Photo: Getty ImagesAmanda Araujo broke Brazil's duck in the second half after a blistering run down the left edge but Ireland hit back and took the second Pool B quarter-finals spot, led by a hat-trick from Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe.

There's some bad news for Brazil with what looks like a pretty serious knee injury to Beatriz Futuro Muhlbauer, after an unlucky tangle up in a ruck.

6:39pm - Half-time - Ireland  19 - Brazil 0

Ireland jumped out an early lead, with two tries in the first four minutes of the match, before a spectacular length of the field try from Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe stretched that margin to 19 points. 


6:26pm  - Full-Time - Russia 31 - England 5

Russia have been the surprise packet of day one. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Russians will top Pool C, in somewhat of a surprising fallout on day one, after going through undefeated. A first half Elena Zdrokova double helped them to an unlikely half-time lead before three more tries in the back end made their advantage unassailable. The Russians will take on the second-placed Pool A finishers, which will be the loser of the Canada vs New Zealand clash - the final match of the day.

6:18pm - Half-time - Russia 10 - England 5

Elena Zdrokova scored her second and third tries of the day to put the Russians in front against the English,with a try to England's Natasha Brennan keeping them in the game. Zdrokova sped away from the pack for her double with 20 seconds to go in the half. 

6:12pm - Full-time - Spain 5 - USA 20

The USA have streaked away from Spain in the second half, with three unanswered tries to clinch their second win of the tournament, making the next clash between England and Russia incredibly high stakes. Alev Kelter has been one of the best for her side, clinching three tries today to put her among the best across the tournament.

6:09pm - Aussies guaranteed a quarter-final berth

The Olympic champions have qualified for the quarters tomorrow but their opponent is yet to be decided, with the top third-placed yet to be determined.

Evania Pelite streaks away for a try. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

It's been a good day so far for Mahalia Murphy. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

6:02pm Half-time - Spain 5- USA 5

Kirsten Thomas scored for the USA in the first half. Photo: Getty ImagesIt's another tight Pool C clash, between Spain and the USA. The Eagles opened the scoring but Spain hit back and we're all set for a tiebreaking second half that will have huge ramifications on tomorrow's quarter-finals.

5:54pm - We're back. 

Final session of the day. And here are some rainbow masks to help get you through the rest of an epic first day.

Taking the theme literally. #GoColourful Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

5:37pm - Black Ferns on top

Kelly Brazier had two tries to help New Zealand find their way to a second win on Friday. 


5:31pm - Two out of three isn't half bad

Two sessions down on day one. Here's a wrap of all the second round scores and current pool standings

Pool A

Canada 39 def. PNG 5

New Zealand 14 def. France 12

Standings

1. Canada (2-0)

2. New Zealand (2-0)

3. France (0-2)

4. PNG (0-2)

Pool B

Fiji 31 - Brazil 10 

Australia 29 - Ireland 0

Standings

1. Australia (2-0)

2. Fiji (1-1)

3. Ireland (1-1)

4. Brazil (0-2)

Pool C

USA 22 def. England 14

Russia 24 def. Spain 5

Standings

1.Russia (2-0)

2. England ( 1-1)

3. USA (1-1)

4. Spain (0-2)

5:24pm Walsh happy with clinical Aussies


Australian Women's Sevens coach Tim Walsh has praised his team's execution after a comprehensive 29-0 win over Ireland.

After a solid, if not convincing, win against Brazil in their first pool match, Walsh said the team had coped well with the physicality of the Ireland clash.

"That second game was very physical and I think strategically we executed what we wanted to do," he said.

"I think it probably was nerves (in the first match) and in the second game we had some pretty strong, experienced combinations that really came to the fore for us." - Tim Walsh

Walsh said he would continue to experiment with different lineups after ensuring a finals berth with their second win.

"I’m going to mix things up and I think we have 12 players that can do the job - winning the first two games has put us in a good position going into the third game.

"It’s always an evolving and strategic kind of way to ensure every player can fill a role if and when they are needed."

- Sam Phillips

5:22 pm Full-time - New Zealand 14 - France 12

France shocked the Black Ferns with a try after half-time that put them in the lead, but the Kiwis hit back to put themselves in front by two points with three minutes to go. That turned out to be enough for New Zealand, who clinched their second win of the day. 

5:10pm - Half-time - New Zealand 7 - France 7

Kelly Brazier opened up proceedings with a try for New Zealand before Clemence Gueucier replied to even things up. This match could have huge flow-on effects for tomorrow's quarter-finals, with the loser in the mix to face Australia.

4:55pm - Full-time - Canada 39 - PNG 5

That early try proved to be PNG's only score of their clash with Canada, as the North Americans stretched their lead to 34 points, capped off by an Ashley Steacy try in the final seconds of the game. The win should guarantee a quarter-final for Canada, against either the top side in Pool C or the second-best third placed side.

4:45pm - Canada 26 - PNG 5

PNG shocked Canada with a try in the opening two minutes to take an early lead in their Pool B match up. Canada replied with one in the third minute, though, to square things up and three more on top of that gave them a 21-point half-time advantage.

4:36pm - Full-time - Australia 29 - Ireland 0

ELLIA. GREEN. SUPERSTAR. The returning speedster one-upped her teammate Pelite with a 50m sprint for Australia's fifth and last try of the match. They've kept Ireland to 0, the first shutout by any team of the day. The result puts Australia in an almost unassailable lead at the top of Pool B, with a match against Fiji to come.

4:32pm 'Vani' goes over

Australia looked dangerous after a break from halfback Charlotte Caslick but a superb chase from the Irish stopped her in her tracks. Evania Pelite didn't have the same problem in the 11th minute, with the speedster leaving defenders in her wake to notch her first try of the tournament. A conversion from Chloe Dalton took scores to 22-0.

4:26pm Cherry on top  - Half-time - Australia 15 - Ireland 0

Emilee Cherry has a first half double, after a spectacular kick and chase effort in the dying seconds of the first half. Cherry kept the ball alive by foot, before Mahalia Murphy collected it. Murphy was immediately confronted by a defender but managed to recycle the ball for Cherry to take it over the line. That was her 88th World Sevens Series try. Want to know more about her? Check out this piece.

4:23 pm - Two tries for Australia

After a tight early tussle, it was the Aussies who clinched the first score, through Emilee Cherry. Ellia Green had the first crack, trying to shake off an Irish defender but couldn't break free, handing the pill off to Cherry on her outside for the first try of the match. Ireland working hard in defence but Georgie Friedrichs slips through their clutches to score on the left edge. Friedrichs has come a long way in her short time with the Sevens squad and is taking her Sydney opportunity with both hands.

4:10pm - Full-time - Fiji 31 - Brazil 10 

A three-minute tussle was broken by Fiji, Merewai Cumu with a runaway score for her side, eluding Bianca Silva jusssttttttt to make it over the line for what looked like being the only try of the second half. Fiji added another in the final five seconds and finished with a 31-10 win.

4:04pm - Half-time - Fiji 21 - Brazil 10

Bianca Silva has been a standout for Brazil. Photo: Getty ImagesA tight first half in the third Pool B match, with two quickfire tries - first to Fiji's Lavenia Tinai and then to Bianca Silva, who has been a star for the South Americans so far today. Two more tries for the Fijians gave them a 16-point advantage amid a physical battle, before Brazil stole a late one back. Big second half to come.

3:53pm - Full-time Russia 22 - Spain 5

One try each after the break and it's Russia in the Pool C lead after two matches, a result that would surprise plenty. Alena Mikhaltsova has led the way for the Russians, with five tries in two matches. They'll face their toughest test of the day in round three, when they take on England. 

3:51pm - Best try of the day (so far)

Joanne Logana doesn't have a win yet today but this try on full-time for PNG will definitely make the day one highlights reel. 

3:41 pm - Half-time - Russia 17 - Spain 0

Alena Mikhaltsova has starred for Russia on Friday. Photo: Getty ImagesAlena Mikhaltsova has a hat-trick for Russia, putting them at a 17-point advantage over Spain and in the box seat to top Pool C. That takes her day one tally to FIVE tries. The most of anyone so far.

3:29pm - Full-time - England 14 - USA 22

The Americans have pulled off an incredible upset over England, piling on 12 unanswered second-half points to clinch thier first Sydney win. That blows Pool C wide open, with three matches to play out. A double for Alev Kelter led the way for the USA. 

3:19pm - Half-time - England 14 - USA - 10

It took just 25 seconds for England's Abbie Brown to kick off the scoring in their second pool match and a conversion made it 7-0. The USA hit back in the third minute and the sides each added another try before the break to keep the margin to just four points at the break. This match could be critical in deciding Pool C's result and the second half will be huuuggggeeeee.

Meanwhile, a 'police officer' had his moment in the sun and a smarty on the big screen FX managed to find the Law and Order theme on their array of buttons. Love it.

3:09pm - Fashion...ish?

Costumes are all part of the Sevens entertainment and this pair certainly got into it. They're certainly teaming with a theme...we're just not sure which theme it is.

Some interesting fashion choices in Sydney. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

2:59pm - Super snaps

Rugby.com.au photographer has been on the ground capturing the action today. Here are a couple of his best from the Aussies' game against Brazil.

Sharni Williams leaps for the ball. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

Charlotte Caslick crossed in the opening half. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley

 

2:40pm - Time for lunch

That match concludes the opening round of matches at the inaugural Sydney 7s. In case you don't feel like scrolling, here's a brief overview.

Pool A

New Zealand 34 def. PNG 5

Canada 26 def. France 5

Pool B

Australia 24 def. Brazil 7

Ireland 19 def. Fiji 12

Pool C

England 19 def. Spain 10

Russia 19 def. USA 10

There's about half an hour before the second round kicks off and I don't know about you, but I reckon it might be time for a sandwich. Check back in soon for pics and more reaction from the first group of games.

2:38pm - Full-time - New Zealand 34 - PNG - 5

The Black Ferns have emerged relatively unscathed from their opening match, controlling proceedings against Papua New Guinea. A spectacular runaway try from PNG was the final act of the game, though, reminding everyone of the highlights Sevens can provide.

2:27pm - Half-time - New Zealand 12 - PNG - 0

PNG have put up a good effort against powerhouse side New Zealand in their first-up clash but the Kiwis have an early lead, after tries to Portia Woodman and Renee Wickliffe.

2:20pm - The Green Machine reacts to opening win


Aussie Sevens winger Ellia Green said there was more to come from her team, after a 24-7 win over Brazil in her first international match since the Rio Olympics.

“Personally, it was good to get one out and I think I went to the toilet about eight times before I ran on the field,” she said.

“It was very good to get the butterfly and nerves out and to get the first game out of the way.

“But for the team, overall, I think it was not our best performance but our first game is usually pretty scrappy so hopefully (in the) next two we will pick up.”

Green said the squad was feeling the pressure of hosting their first tournament.

“We’ve got a lot of younger girls here so we are training them up.

“Having the crowd here and the pressures of our families as well but it’s all going really well so far.”

- Sam Phillips

2:15pm - Full-time - Canada 26 vs France 5

A four-try to one tally for Canada gave them a comfortable win over France in their opening pool game, with the North Americans keen to make an impact after a slow start in Dubai late last year. France's defence worked hard but couldn't contain the Canadians as they ran away with the win. Just one game left in the opening round.

2:08pm - Green's comeback nerves

She might appear cool and calm but Aussie winger Ellia Green had a few pre-game nerves ahead of her comeback game this morning.

2:03pm - Half-time - Canada 19 vs France 5

Canada are out to avenge an average finish in Dubai and looked like doing just that with the two opening tries against France, through their opponents snatched one back in the sixth minute to keep the gap to just one try but a last-gasp Jen Kish score made it 19-5.

1:55pm - Two for Murphy as Aussies win

Mahalia Murphy in action during the pool stages. Photo: Getty ImagesMahalia Murphy crossed for two tries against Brazil in a dominant 24-7 win for Australia in their first Sydney Sevens tournament. The only downside for Australia was a yellow card for Alicia Quirk, late in the piece. That one will have shaken out a few nerves.


1:51pm - Sydney snaps

Ireland and Fiji will be vying with the Aussies for a quarter-final spot and it was the Irish who took the win earlier today.


 

1:47pm - Second half underway

Mahalia Murphy makes an early break as the Aussies try to threaten, but Brazil's defence holds. They go for a gap on the opposite edge but Tiana Penitani loses the ball five metres out. We're deep in Aussie attacking territory now. Another attacking chain ends with a Murphy TRY and opens up a 10-point margin for the home side.

1:42pm - Australia 12 vs Brazil 7

Some clever kicking from Brazil gives Bianca Silva her first Sydney try. The score now 12-7, and that's 

1:39 pm -The Green Machine crosses!

It took three minutes but the Aussies clinched the opening try through speedster Ellia Green, playing her first tournament since Rio on Friday. Charlotte Caslick stole a critical lineout from the Brazilians, which set up the attacking chance and a handful of phases set Green up in the corner. Caslick followed up her defensive effort with a super finish in the middle, crossing for Australia's second as the Olympic champions started to loosen up.

1:35pm - Aussie Sevens are up!

This is the moment the crowd has been waiting for - the hometown heroes, Australia, are on the field for their first World Series match on home soil. Can they take a win over Brazil?

1:33pm -  Fiji 12 vs Ireland 19

Ashleigh Baxter made it three tries for Ireland in the ninth minute and the conversion gave them a 12-point gap. The Fijians mounted a late comeback through Pricila Sauvavai Siata, narrowing the margin to just seven points and that was how it ended.

Aussies up next!

1:21pm Half-time - FIji 7 vs Ireland - 12

A third minute sin bin put Fiji on the back foot at Allianz. The Irish have the added experience of having played here last year - they were part of a three-match exhibition series against the Aussie women at the 2016 Sydney 7s. They clinched an early try with the extra player advantage but Fiji closed the gap through Lavenia Tinai.

The Aussie Sevens women took a 1-0 lead against Ireland on Saturday.

1:14pm - Fiji vs Ireland


1:07pm - Russia 19 - USA 10

It was a hard-fought second clash between Russia and USA. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyIt was tit-for-tat between Russia and the USA in a nail-biting second half. Tapper had a second for USA and then a super run from Alena Mikhaltsova led to her evener. A conversion from Artamonova put the Russians in front. Mikhaltsova literally skipped away for her second in the final match to clinch the win! In a quirky twist, we're two from two in games with 19-10 scorelines. 

Just two games away from the Aussies' Sydney 7s debut - Fiji vs Ireland up next.


12:59pm - Russia - 5 vs USA - 5

We're in for a tight one! USA looked like getting off to a flyer, with Naya Elena Tapper getting their tally off the ground but Russia hit back with one for Zdorokova in the 4th minute to draw level.

And just for something different - A Donald Trump joke.

 

12:48pm England 19 - Spain 10

Joanne Watmore kicked off her Sydney campaign with a hat-trick. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Spanish started the second perfectly with a try almost immediately to Patricia Garcia, but England had an immediate answer through Joanne Watmore, who clinched a hat-trick! Not a bad way to kick off your first Sydney 7s.

12:41pm - Stream issues

Trying to watch the Sydney Sevens outside of Australia/New Zealand? The World Rugby stream has apparently hit a snag, so sit tight.

 

12:39pm England 14 - Spain 5

Joanne Watmore notches a double for England, including the first official Sydney 7s women's try and they take an early lead over Spain. Lauren Cattell has started her tournament perfectly off the boot, helping them to a big lead. Spain hit back in the 6th minute, through Maria Casado. England get into dangerous territory after half-time but Spain diffuse the tension and put the ball in touch.

12:35pm - England vs Spain

The first match of the day is about to get underway. England kicking off in the historic clash. Who will get the first victory?

12:18pm - The Aussies arrive


12:17pm - Is this real or is this just a fantasy?

We'll let you decide....

 

12:03pm - Accurate

Anyone who was at Sydney 7s last year might agree with this punter. Will we see a big turnout from the Fijians again this year?


12:00pm - For the locals

Australia's first match is at 1:36pm AEDT, but it's only one of their three pool matches. For the full Day One draw, click here.

 

12:00pm - Trans-Tasman rivals

Australia and New Zealand are the heavyweights of this competition and the Aussies will be out for revenge against their biggest rivals after going down in Dubai. They've had to wait two months for a chance to go one better. 

11:55am - A big week of news

It's been a big week of prep for the home side, with the Aussie women preparing for their first home tournament. They've been in camp in Coogee this week, capped off by a landmark sponsorship announcement on Thursday and a new domestic competition.

ARU CEO Bill Pulver also admitted the women weren't paid anywhere what they are worth, especially given their success.

The captains all had a chance to have a chat this week at the picturesque photocall a few days out from kick-off.

The men will share the spotlight with the women this year. Photo; Getty Images

11:43 am - Countdown to kick-off

We're about 45 minutes away from the historic first match here at Allianz Stadium. It'll be England and Spain kicking us off in the middle, with the Rio champion Aussie women playing their first match at 1:36pm AEDT.

Haven't been following the Women's World Series? Take a look at the rugby.com.au preview here.

Sydney's not putting on the best conditions for rugby today, but it shouldn't be too hot, with a high of 26 degrees and a possibility of rain.

 

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