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By ARU Media Unit
Australia continued its assault on the World Series as the season headed towards an exciting climax.
Back-to-back tournaments left Australia joint-top of the World Series standings alongside trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand. In freezing Atlanta, the team couldn’t quite scale the heights of Dubai. Two defeats to a tough Canadian outfit meant that Australia had to ultimately settle for third spot.
It was a case of fantasy Rugby in Sao Paulo, Brazil as Australia stormed to its second Cup Final in three IRB World Series tournaments. In the Cup Final itself, the Aussies scored arguably the try of the season. Stunning interchange from Charlotte Caslick, Emilee Cherry, Emma Tonegato and then Cherry again saw the side go virtually coast-to-coast to extend its lead over New Zealand. Australia eventually won 24-12. The tournament was a frightening glimpse into what the women can achieve with the Rio Olympics on the horizon in two years. To cap off a perfect weekend, centre Emilee Cherry was named Player of the Tournament.
Head Coach Tim Walsh handed World Series debuts to Nicole Beck and Kirby Sefo for the trip to Guangzhou in April. Gemma Etheridge also returned to the fold for the first time since February 2013 after recovering from an ACL injury.
At a soaking Guangzhou University Town Stadium, Australia earned another Cup Final appearance after defeating Spain (12-5) and then edging out Canada (5-0) after a moment of magic from Emilee Cherry. New Zealand proved too strong on this occasion, however, beating Walsh’s team 26-12. Tries from Cherry and Sharni Williams were not enough as New Zealand claimed outright leadership of the Sevens World Series with one round remaining.
With media spotlight firmly on the Women’s team having had two players – Charlotte Caslick and Emilee Cherry – named on the shortlist for IRB Sevens Player of the Year, Australia headed to Amsterdam for the final leg of the season in confident mood. After winning all three games on Day One, Australia took on Brazil in the Cup Quarter-Final. The tie was over before it had even started as Cherry scored a stunning 181-second hat-trick to see off the South Americans. Australia then beat Canada before ultimately falling short against a well-drilled Kiwi side (29-12).
In late May, Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee named its 12-strong squad that will travel to the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in August. Tiana Penitani was named captain of the side.
Key Statistics at-a-glance
- Australia finished second with 92 points, four behind Series winners New Zealand
- Australia only used 16 players throughout the series
- There were eight ever-present players in the squad during the 2013/14 season – Alicia Quirk, Amy Turner, Charlotte Caslick, Cobie-Jane Morgan, Emilee Cherry, Emma Tonegato, Shannon Parry and Sharni Williams
- Emilee Cherry was named the IRB Sevens World Series Player of the Year
- Emilee Cherry was the series top points scorer with 195 points
- Emilee Cherry was the series top try scorer with 33
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.