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The Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team have pulled off one of the greatest come backs in Sevens Rugby history to come back from 22-0 down in the Cup Final and defeat the world champions New Zealand 35-27 to win round one of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Dubai.
Australia’s comeback was spearheaded by debutant Rachel Crothers, who in her first ever World Series tournament scored seven tries, including three in the final, in one of the greatest debuts in Australian Rugby history.
It was Australia's first ever tournament win in the IRB Womens' Sevens World Series and in their first tournament under new coach Tim Walsh.
Australia performed strongly on day one, defeating Brazil 38-10, France 31-0 and Canada 17-0, to give them a perfect three wins from three starts.
The results meant Australia were seeded No.2 on day two, behind the powerful New Zealand, and met England in the Cup Quarter Finals where they fought out a nail-biting 19-12 victory, after trailing 12-0 at half time.
The first of two amazing come backs on day two.
This led to a Cup semi final against the outstanding Russia who were also undefeated coming in to day two and powered through their quarter final 36-0 against the USA.
But Australia were far too good trouncing the Russians 31-0.
This set up a decider against the world champions New Zealand and it looked like the final was over a minute into the second half with Australia down 27-7.
But tries to Ellia Green, Emilee Cherry and a double to Crothers saw Australia pull off a famous victory.
For match reports on Australia’s stunning triumph see below.
For scores and reports from all matches go to http://wsws.irb.com/destination/edition=1/index.html
CUP QUARTER FINAL - AUSTRALIA 19 ENGLAND 12
A heroic second half performance from Australia saw the women of gold fight back from a 12-0 half time deficit to defeat England 19-12 and earn their place in the Cup Semi-Finals on day two of round one of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Dubai.
The women of gold had some early chances but Ellia Green couldn’t gather the ball with the line open after an English mistake and Shannon Parry was inches short as she reached out to score what would have been a great solo try.
Parry had a chance to put Ellia away moments later but she held on too long close to the English line.
Australia had had all the ball and spent the first five minutes camped in England’s 22 but it was England who scored first through a determined run from Michaela Staniford in their first trip to Australian territory.
England poured on the pressure in the final moments of the half and after a succession of penalties Amy Wilson-Hardy dived over after the siren. The conversion from Sarah McKenna gave England a 12-0 cushion at the break.
Australia had to withstand some pressure early in the second half close to their line but they defended bravely and eventually Emilee Cherry fed a short pass to Rachel Crothers who burst through to score a long range try. The conversion was good by Williams to put Australia back in the match.
England then came on to the attack again with the clock ticking down but as she has done so often before Williams saved Australia as she burst through the defence and set off on a long run that saw her pulled down just inches out from England’s line.
But it was a brief respite as Australia were awarded a penalty and Charlotte Caslick acted quickly, tapping and diving over to even the score at 12-12. Substitute Cobie-Jane Morgan missed the conversion setting up a likely period of extra time.
But Australia attacked again and with time up on the clock Cherry found a gap and sprinted through for the clinching try. This time Morgan added the conversion and Australia were through to the Cup semi-finals where they would face a much sterner test against the red hot Russians.
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens 19 (Rachel Crothers, Charlotte Caslick, Emilee Cherry tries; Cobie-Jane Morgan, Sharni Williams conversions) defeated England 12 (Michaela Stanford, Amy Wilson-Hardy tries; Sarah McKenna conversion) at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half time: England 12 Australia 0)
CUP SEMI-FINAL – AUSTRALIA 31 RUSSIA 0
In what was shaping up as a tantalising semi-final Australia met Russia, with both teams undefeated after four matches.
Russia had an early chance through their speedy winger Rusiet Edidzhi but Emilee Cherry, showed she had the pace to match her, running her down.
Edidzhi then made a tackle on the opposite wing as Rachel Crothers looked dangerous. The beach sprinter then almost put Australia in front moments later after good work by Shannon Parry at the breakdown, but Crothers lost the ball just as he was set to ground it.
Excellent work from Cherry again on Edidzhi forced a turnover and the ball came wide quickly to the other side where Sharni Williams finished it off for her fourth try of the tournament. Williams failed to convert but in a tight contest Australia held a precious 5-0 lead.
Australia were disrupting Russia’s lineout very effectively and another lineout steal saw Williams power her way over for her second try of the match with six minutes gone. Williams converted this time to make it 12-0 in the shadows of half time.
Russia almost got on the board just on half time but lanky winger Baizat Khamidova just put her foot into touch, to maintain Australia’s 12-0 lead at the break.
Crothers, who was having an outstanding debut World Series tournament, then made a break on the right wing before passing inside to Cherry to race away and score her fifth try of the weekend. The conversion to Williams made it 19-0.
Russia then had another opportunity through a long break but it was snuffed out by superb defence from sweeper Charlotte Caslick.
Moments later Alicia Quirk set up Amy Turner brilliantly for Australia’s fourth try, as Australia took a commanding 24-0 lead.
There was time for another sweeping move, which was capped off by Ellia Green and Australia had done more than enough to earn their Cup Final place against New Zealand.
A superb conversion from Cobie-Jane Morgan was the icing on the lemon cake as Australia put together their best performance of the tournament to date with a superb 31-0 victory against the previously undefeated Russians.
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens 31 (Sharni Williams 2, Amy Turner, Emilee Cherry, Ellia Green tries; Williams 2, Cobie-Jane Morgan conversions) defeated Russia 0 at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half Time: Australia 14 Russia 0)
CUP FINAL – AUSTRALIA 35 NEW ZEALAND 27
The top two teams, ranked 1 and 2 after day one and 1 and 2 again after day two, met in the Cup Final under the night desert sky.
A mistake from the kick off gave New Zealand good attacking opportunity and after sustained pressure Carla Hohepa went over in the corner to give New Zealand a 5-0 lead.
Three minutes later New Zealand increased their lead after a stunning run from try-machine Kayla McAlister who bumped off three would-be Australian tacklers on a 70 metre run to the line.
Honey Hireme then added a double as New Zealand streaked to a 22-0 lead with three minutes remaining in the first half . Only missed conversions was keeping Australia in the game.
Rachel Crothers, Australia’s player of the tournament, brought it back to 22-7 with a converted try right on half time but Australia had a lot of work to do to get back in the match in the second half.
New Zealand continued to surge ahead with McAlister notching up her second try straight after the re-start. But Crothers continued to keep Australia’s hopes alive with her second try to make it 27-14.
And when Cobie-Jane Morgan brilliantly converted Ellia Green’s try two minutes later Australia were back within six points trailing just 27-21.
Moments later Australia were in front after the re-start was re-gathered and a cross field kick was re-gathered superbly by Crothers who sent the ball inside to Emilee Cherry who scampered under the posts.
Morgan again landed the conversion and stunningly Australia were in front 28-27 with four minutes left.
Australia then sealed it as Crothers raced 60 metres to score her hat-trick, and seventh try of the tournament, and cap one of the most stunning debuts in Australian Rugby history.
Morgan added her fifth conversion out of five for good measure and Australia had beaten the world champions 35-27.
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens 35 (Rachel Crothers 3, Ellia Green, Emilee Cherry tries; Cobie-Jane Morgan 5 conversions) defeated New Zealand 27 (Honey Hireme 2, Kayla McAlister 2, Carla Hohepa tries; Hazel Tubic conversion) at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half Time: Australia 5 New Zealand 22)