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Star winger Emilee Cherry praised her side’s never-say-die attitude after Australia dug deep to finish third in the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series despite a gruelling loss to Canada in the Cup Semi-Final in Atlanta.
Australia defeated Russia 22-12 in the 3rd/4th place game and Cherry said after the game: “It was a great way to finish. After the highs and lows of the Quarter-Final and then the Canada game, the girls were really keen to finish off with a third place finish. To defeat a powerful Russian side is very satisfying.”
On a clear and crisp day in the US state of Georgia, Australia were paired with England in the Cup Quarter-Final. A see-saw, intense battle saw Sharni Williams play a captain’s role to score the winning try in sudden-death extra time to defeat the English 17-12. Emilee Cherry and Ellia Green – who had earlier been sent to the sin bin - were the other try scorers.
The short turnaround between fixtures took its toll on the Aussies as they bowed out of the Cup competition at the Semi-Final stage, unable to exact revenge on a strong Canadian side after going down 17-7 having lead with under two minutes left.
Kayla Moleschi’s opener was cancelled out by a high-quality team try finished off by skipper Sharni Williams. Williams’ conversion was the difference between the two sides before Kelly Russell bustled over following a quickly-taken penalty and Ashley Steacy broke free to break Australian resistance.
“The girls showed plenty of heart to get past England in extra time. We didn’t play to our best but our character showed through to never give up,” said Cherry.
“We were very disappointed with the Canada game. Similar to the pool game, we had a lot of chances but simple errors let us know. That said, Canada is a quality team and they took advantage of our lack of finishing.”
With 16 crucial series points on offer, Australia took on Russia in their final game of the tournament. Hanna Sio’s first try of the weekend and Alicia Quirk got the Aussies off to a flying start, before a double from Baizat Khamidova – the top points and top try scorer in Atlanta – pegged them back.
It was all Australia in the second period, however, and their pressure finally told when Ellia Green twice touched down in the left corner to score her third and fourth tries of the weekend and seal the win.
New Zealand’s crushing Cup Final win over the Canadians means they take over at the top of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series standings. New Zealand (38 points) lead the way with Australia (36) in second spot. Canada sit in third position on 32 points.
The series heads south to Arena Barueri in Sao Paulo next weekend (22-23 February AEDT). All games will be streamed on wsws.irb.com.