The Australian women have dug deep to win the bronze medal at the Women’s World Series tournament at Kitakyushu in Japan on Sunday.
The Aussies led for only the final 30 seconds of what was a highly physical encounter grabbing the vital points as they attempt to defend the world series title they won last year.
The hero for the Australians at the death was Chloe Dalton who managed to get on the outside of the Fijian defence down the left hand edge and score wide out with the Aussies down 14-17.
It was Dalton’s third try of the tournament this weekend but none were as important as this one.
At one stage in the first half the Aussies were down 12-0, but the halftime chat from head coach Tim Walsh and his leadership group did the trick and Dom du Toit scored shortly after the break.
That gave the Aussies a sniff after what was a frenetic first seven minutes but it was the try from Emma Sykes with six minutes that gave Shannon Parry’s side a sniff.
Charlotte Caslick was the instigator of much of the good stuff that the Aussies did in that second half and her playmaking and work in defence was vital in a side that was down on world series experience.
Watching on from the sidelines on crutches was Ellia Green and Evania Pelite who were both injured in the first minute of the quarter final win over France earlier in the day. They only had two reserves on the bench with Emilee Cherry also sidelined with an eye injury.
Head coach Walsh came away from the tournament happy with the medal, but with a checklist to work on before their next tournament.
"After we won gold in Rio we reflected on the milestones along the way (to the Olympics) and when we look back in 2020 this is going to one of those moments," - Tim Walsh.
"To win world series and medals you've got to have a balanced squad and depth. And then when you get injuries you've got to have the capacity to play a different style of game to get the result that you want.
“To come from behind and beat Fiji the way we did was a credit to the character of the team and how much they wanted the win.
“Our younger players really stood up but they still have a long way to go. There is just some technical things they need to do under pressure; the signs are good moving forward.
“On Day Two though the reality is that we weren’t good enough, especially against Canada."
Walsh added that the injuries to Green and Pelite will be fully assessed when they get back to Australia in the next couple of days.
In the final, which was refereed by Aussie Amy Perrett, New Zealand scored a try after the hooter to snatch a 17-14 win over Canada with Portia Woodman outstanding throughout the weekend.
The Aussie women were outclassed by Canada 33-0 in their semi final earlier in the day and the determination to come away from here with a medal was great to see.
The Aussies were never really in the semi and struggled to get hold of any sort of meaningful possession or field position for much of the game.
Their cause wasn’t helped by the injuries to Green and Pelite but even their presence may not have been able to stop this Canadian juggernaut who were led by a hat-trick of tries by Julia Greenshields.
All up the Canadian scored five tries with the last coming in referee’s time to Brittany Benn, who celebrated her birthday on Sunday.
Earlier the Aussies made their way through to the semis after a testing 19-12 win over France.
Walsh tipped that this would be a difficult match to negotiate first thing on Day Two after his side had finished the Pool games undefeated and that’s the way that things turned out.
Emilee Cherry, the 2014 World Rugby Sevens player of the year went on to score a double, the second of these marked her 100th try on the World Series circuit.
As well as the two early injuries the Aussies were rocked when weight of possession saw France score first but once the game settled down a bit the Australians were able to put Shannon Parry through to score under the post to make the score 7-5.
Tries: Emilee Cherry 2, Shannon Parry
Cons: Chloe Dalton 2
Tries: Guerin, Biscarat
Tries: Greenshields 3, Benn, Nicholas
Cons: Landry 3, Nicholas 1
Bronze Medal match
Tries: Dominique du Toit, Emma Sykes, Chloe Dalton
Cons: Chloe Dalton 2
Tries: Daveua, Cumu, Tinai
Cons: Tinai 1