Australia has qualified at the top of Pool B after defeating Fiji 17-12 in their final Day One match at the Women’s World Sevens Series at Kitakyushu in Japan.
It was an absolute nail-biter with the Fijians storming back into the game in the second half after the Aussies led 12-0 at the break thanks to a couple of cracking tries from Ellia Green.
They went further ahead shortly after the break when Charlotte Caslick kicked through and regathered for a try, but much of the final four minutes was all about the Fijiana.
The Fijians came into this tournament as a team to watch and that’s just the way that things have turned out with impressive wins in their first two games on Day One - 34-7 over Brazil and a 45-0 victory over Ireland.
The win means that the Aussies will top Pool C as they head into Day Two and the quarter-finals where they will take on France. In the other quarter finals Canada will play Russia, Fiji will play USA and New Zealand will play England.
Head coach Tim Walsh did rest some of his big guns in the latter stages of there second half with Green and Shannon Parry riding the pine once the score had blown out to 17-0.
Up until then the defensive effort from the Aussies was impressive and they continually worked hard on the inside shoulder to nullify the off-loading game that the Fijiana have brought to Japan.
Walsh said they had trialled a new defensive system on Day One and he was happy with the result.
"Defence wins championships and we want to be proud of the way that we defend," he said.
"(At the same time) It was really good to be able to give some minutes to Demi (Hayes), Dom (du Toit) and Emma (Sykes) as we need to bring through the next generation.
"Everyone is feeling really good at the moment and we're all in a good place (as we head into the quarter final).
"But it's important to put the French away early. We don't want to give them a chance."
Walsh also praised the emergence of the Fijians after their efforts on Day One.
"Fiji are vastly improved side and they now have some size and speed and they are playing like their men's team," he observed.
Earlier Green grabbed another double when the Aussies defeated Ireland 36-0 in their second match of Day One.
The Aussies started with many of their first stringers in this match and as well as concentrating on their connection in defence brought considerable physicality to the breakdown.
That’s an area that head coach Tim Walsh has identified as an area where the Aussies need to lift their game and he would have been pleased with the effort from this game.
The Aussies led 17-0 at the break and continued on their way throughout the second half.
Green’s second try was an absolute cracker early in the half where the ball was moved quickly from a turnover in the Australians quarter, was kicked through and Green and du Toit put on the afterburners in pursuit.
Du Toit was first to there ball and from the resulting ruck Green picked up the ball and strolled over untouched.
The match saw two Aussie coaches going head to head with Walsh leading the Australians and Anthony Eddy in charge of the Ireland side.
Australia got their campaign off to the perfect start with an impressive 38-0 win over Brazil in their Pool B match.
The Aussies scored six tries to nil against the Brazilians after weathering a spirited start from their opponents.
A double from Demi Hayes led the way as Walsh opted to go with many of the new faces in the starting seven for this match.
The lanky Hayes has had only one tournament at this level leading into Kitakyushu but showed that she was not out of her depth always threatening the defence and running some very effective support lines.
Du Toit was another to do well and she scored not far from the halftime break where the Aussie lead 28-8 including a cracker of a try bro Chloe dalton’s in referee’s time.
The second half was much more measured from the Aussies as they worked the likes of Charlotte Caslick and Green into their system.
Elsewhere New Zealand opened their account here in Japan with a 31-0 win over Japan who were outgunned but competed throughout the 14 minutes.
NZ superstar Alicia Portman was amongst the Kiwis’ best and scored a great try from about the halfway mark that underlined her speed over 40 metres.
Tries: Demi Hayes 2, Dominique du Toit, Emma Sykes, Ellia Green, Chloe Dalton
Cons: Dalton 4
Tries: Ellia Green 2, Evania Pelite, Chloe Dalton, Demi Hayes, Dominique du Toit
Cons: Emma Sykes 1, Chloe Dalton 2
Tries: Ellia Green 2, Charlotte Caslick
Cons: Chloe Dalton 1
Tries: Roqica, Naiobasali
Cons: Tinai 1
Day Two quarter finals:
Australia v France
Canada v Russia
Fiji v USA
New Zealand v England