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By ARU Media Unit
National Women’s Head Coach Tim Walsh praised the character of his side after the Australian Youth Olympics Rugby Sevens girls team dramatically came from behind to beat China and end matchday one in Nanjing with two wins from two.
Despite back-to-back victories, Walsh still sees room for improvement for the team following the game against China.
“The girls showed the Aussie fight to win, but lacked a little composure. We need to create situations that allow us to play to our strength. Control the ball by winning the battle of the breakdown and then play with some width to allow the speed to isolate defenders.
“The girls learnt a lot today! They have the talent, they have the intelligence and today they have set the platform for Gold.”
China, looking every inch an outfit that had trained together for the past six months, looked to have sealed a win when they took a 12-5 lead early in the second period. However, Australia co-skipper Tiana Penitani reduced the arrears midway throughout the second half with a breakaway try – her second of the game - before Kellie Gibson stole the win (15-12) out wide on the right with a fine finish after a patient build-up.
Earlier, Western Australian Kellie Gibson made history when scoring the first Rugby Sevens try at an Olympic event in the opening minute of a comfortable win over Tunisia (33-0). Mackenzie Sadler, Marioulla Belessis, Gibson again and finally Dominique Du Toit also crossed over to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Gibson, from Ellenbrook, said: “Scoring the first try - I didn’t really realise until I got up and I was like “oh my God, I scored the first try at the Olympics for rugby”- so I’m pretty stoked.
“I just kept lifting. I think once you do get your first touch of the game, nerves go away and you really just set in and just go for the team. We really stepped up and we’ve really gelled over the past few days so it’s all really working well for us.”
The Australian Youth Olympic Games team continues its campaign when they play the United States at 11am AEST tomorrow (Monday, 18 August). Later, they play Spain at 7pm (AEST).
The 2014 Australian Women’s Youth Olympic Rugby Sevens results and fixtures in Nanjing, China on 17-19 August 2014:
Australia 33-0 Tunisia
Australia 15-12 China
Australia v USA (11am AEST, 18 August)
Australia v Spain (7pm AEST, 18 August)
Australia v Canada (Midday AEST, 19 August)
Over 500 young men and women had the opportunity to show off their skills and athleticism yesterday, as the Australian Rugby Union’s Search for a Star took place across the country looking to identify players who may have the potential to represent their country in Rugby Sevens.