Aussies hope for strong showing as season hits halfway point

Women's Las Vegas 7s
by Jill Scanlon

Twice this season Australia and New Zealand have played out a Cup final and twice the Kiwis have come out on top, a trend the defending champions are desperate to buck.

Round four of the six-leg Women’s series is taking place this weekend in Kitakyushu, Japan and Australia has underlined the fact it wants to finish the series strongly with just three rounds to go, but it won't be alone in that desire.

This is the first time a round of the Women’s World Series has been held in Asia and is an acknowledgement of the growth of rugby in the region as well  as the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

POOL A 

New Zealand, Russia, France, Japan

New Zealand is leading the way this season having bounced back from the less than typical form shown in 2016, but this is no easy pool.

Russia and France have what it takes to challenge the top teams and Japan will be riding high on confidence having won a World Series tournament a fortnight ago in Hong Kong as part of the Qualifying Series, placing it in the full series next season.

POOL B

Australia, Fiji, Ireland, Brazil

While Australia has added more youth to the team with a view to building for the future, it still has the core of experienced players with Shannon Parry leading the them out.  Aussie coach Tim Walsh has made these selections well aware the new players have what it takes to perform at the top level.

Fijiana is the quiet but consistent achiever on the circuit as it builds a solid foundation for success in women’s rugby sitting fourth in the rankings, just ahead of USA and Russia.

Ireland too has developed well over the past 12 months but is not ready to bother the top sides just yet.

POOL C

Canada, USA, Spain, England

England has called up three players from the recently victorious Six Nations team – all of whom were a part of the GB Sevens Rio team.

Heather Fisher is also back from injury and will add to the strength and experience of the England team which has had poor results in the last two outings finishing a surprising 10th in both Sydney and Las Vegas with Spain besting them in the US.

USA is looking to build on recent good performances with two debutants included for this round but its top-three side Canada that will be the pool's benchmark.

FIXTURE

Women’s Sevens World Series, Kitakyushu

Pool Round

Australia vs Brazil , Saturday April 22, 12.36pm AEST

Australia vs Ireland, Saturday April 22, 3.20pm AEST

Australia vs Fiji, Saturday April 22, 6.04pm AEST

Coverage via LIVE streaming at WorldRugby.org from 11.00am – 7.00pm AEST.

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