Dubai Sevens: Aussies sweep pool, book Cup QF berth

by Sam Phillips

The opening day of Dubai Sevens action is in the books and the Australians are off to a flyer.

Women's pool matches took centre stage on day one - with the men set to kick off Friday afternoon (AEDT) - and coach Tim Walsh's side did not miss a beat from the opening whistle.

Led by Emma Tonegato's stunning return to the World Series circuit, the Australians are a perfect three from three and have topped Pool B.

They will face England again in a Cup quarter final at 4:44pm AEDT Friday, after they finished as the best ranked third placed pool side.

The other Cup quarter finals will see New Zealand face France, Russia square off with Spain and Canada take on France, with the winner of Australia-England to face the victor of Canada-France in the subsequent Cup semi final.

Here's how all the action played out on day one.

2:30am - Australia 31 Russia 12

This was the clash of the two undefeated Pool B sides and while there was an early nervous moment, the result never looked in any sort of doubt.

That nervous moment came when Vani Pelite knocked the ball on near halfway and Russia made the Aussies pay, finding a hole through the middle of the Australian defence and racing away to open the scoring.

Pelite negated that damage two minutes later when she forced a turnover and gave Emma Tonegato the chance to put Dom du Toit away for Australia's first.

A perfectly weighted Emma Sykes kickoff ensured Australia created a contest and they won that 50-50 battle, Charlotte Caslick making a break and finding Tonegato for her first of the match.

The Australians controlled possession for the remainder of the first term and after Russia gave away a penalty Tonegato set off for the line from 40 out, beating all chasers to the line to score her second.

Emma Tonegato is airborne in Dubai. Photo: Rugby Australia MediaThat gave the Aussies a 17-5 half time lead and Tonegato picked up where she left off in the second term, notching her hat trick two minutes after play resumed.

That put the result beyond all doubt, Russia notching a penalty try when Page McGregor batted a ball dead from the in goal area, before Cassie Staples put the icing on the cake in scoring Australia's fifth of the match after the final siren had rung out.

11:30pm - Australia 22 England 7

Australia have booked a spot in the Cup quarter finals and seriously hurt England's chances of doing so in the process with a convincing win against the old enemy.

England drew first blood when Emma Tonegato allowed Deborah Fleming to slip past and show a clean pair of heels down the left hand sideline to score inside the first minute but it was all Australia from that point forward.

The English attack looked a touch confused and the Aussies pounced on the turnovers that produced, Dom du Toit immediately responding to Fleming's try with one of her own, spotting a gap and turning on the jets from 50 out to score.Emma Sykes scored a double against England. Photo: Rugby Australia MediaAustralia trailed 7-5 and it looked as though it would remain that way at the half time break but a composed set from the Aussies - led by some pinpoint passing from Charlotte Caslick - saw them work into the English red zone and a slick dummy-step combo from Emma Sykes saw her cross under the sticks.

The first half was tight but the second was anything but, as Australia controlled the majority of possession and patiently plugged away at the English line.

It took an early try of the year nomination to crack the line next, though, Vani Pelite batting a Sykes grubber that was bound for the sideline between her legs to keep the ball in play, Sykes cleaning up the loose ball before touching down for her second.Vani Pelite starred against England. Photo: World RugbyPelite went from creator to finisher in the final minute, keeping a cool head to evade three English defenders and score after Tonegato atoned for her missed tackle with some nice hands to set Pelite up.

The win ensures a Cup quarter final berth but if the Australians are to top Pool B they will have to beat Russia, who are also two from two after breezing past Japan in their second match.

8:30pm - Australia 27 Japan 0

A near perfect start to the Dubai 7s for the Aussies, who worked very hard after the siren to keep the Japanese scoreless in a quality sign of intent.

In truth, coach Tim Walsh's side were never really troubled, shooting out to an early lead and maintaining possession for the majority of the match.

World Series debutant Page McGregor was the first to cross and she did so in the second minute, the beneficiary of a beautiful cutout pass from Charlotte Caslick.It didn't take long for Emma Tonegato to put her name on the scoresheet. Photo: Getty ImagesIt only took 60 seconds longer for Emma Tonegato to put her name on the scoresheet, Caslick then turning creator to finisher to score the third try of the first term.

Japan managed to work their way into the Australian half two minutes into the second term but the Aussies stayed patient and forced an average grubber, Cassie Staples cleaning up the crumbs and leaving Japanese defenders clutching at air as she scooted in and away to find space and run 60 metres to score.

The Japanese then pushed into the Australian red zone but once again the defence held strong, Staples again finding space from turnover ball and coasting to the line from 85 metres out.

The win puts Australia on top of Pool B, Russia scoring two tries in the final 60 seconds to steal a 17-15 win from England in the other pool match.

Next up, England, at 11:02pm AEDT.

7:30pm - Welcome

Here's who will be lining up for the Aussies today, as well as a full list of fixtures.


Australian Women's Sevens squad for the Dubai Sevens

1. Shannon Parry (c), 24 caps, Griffith University

2. Sharni Williams (c), 23 caps, University of Canberra

3. Georgina Friedrichs, 6 caps, University of Tasmania

4. Dom Du Toit, 6 caps, Macquarie University

5. Emma Tonegato, 18 caps, University of Adelaide

6. Evania Pelite, 14 caps, University of Adelaide

7. Charlotte Caslick, 23 caps, Bond University

8. Mahalia Murphy, 8 caps, University of Adelaide

9. Emma Sykes, 6 caps, University of Queensland

10. Page McGregor, 1 cap, Macquarie University

11. Emilee Cherry, 25 caps, University of Queensland

12. Cassie Staples, 2 caps, University of Canberra


Australian Women’s Sevens Fixtures

Thursday 30 November

Australia v Japan, 8.06pm AEDT

Australia v England, 11.02pm AEDT

Friday 1 December

Australia v Russia, 1.59am AEDT