One year makes all the difference for Aussie women

Womens - Sydney
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

“Gold is better than silver.”

With those five off-the-cuff words, Australian Sevens co-captain Shannon Parry summed up the difference between Sydney this year and last year.

Everything about this year was better for the hosts, who have now become the first women’s side to win their home tournament and first men’s or women’s team to go through without conceding a point.

Beyonce’s songs were the tunes of the afternoon, with Emilee Cherry describing a relaxed scene pre-game, a sign of things to come.

“Ellia Green and Sharni (Williams) were rolling their shoulders over and Alicia Quirk was dropping it low before we went out, stretching those hammies," she said.

“It was pretty entertaining.”

When the anthems were sung, in what was their first experience of this at home, most of the women were beaming, rather than stony-faced, embracing the moment.

It was that mentality that opened up the door for success in Sydney, co-captain Shannon Parry said.

“I think that's honestly the key to our success this weekend is that everyone was relaxed, it was a totally different mojo, similar to that of Rio, where everyone was just relaxed, taking it as it comes,” she said.

“We definitely play those critical moments a lot better than what we did 12 months ago.”

Coach Tim Walsh, in his final World Series tournament as the side’s mentor, knew they’d won with two minutes to go, though Cherry wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“I think we knew we had it won with about two or three minutes to go,’ he said.

“I spoke to Emilee Cherry and asked, 'Have we got this?', she goes 'No. There's still two minutes to go.' It was very wise from Emilee.

“We knew we had it won, so it was nice to look around and look at the players and I did actually take a moment, put some players on, had good chats with them before they ran out.

“But then to embrace the players in that game afterwards - there was a few tears but I think they were very pleased with the event and how they performed.”

When Emma Tonegato beat New Zealand’s Michaela Blyde to the ball after the full-time whistle, when they could potentially have let their rivals in simply to finish the game, the result was sealed.

A home Commonwealth Games looms for the women, in more than two months’ time, and their only challenge is to top the perfect tournament.

And more success may mean Cherry’s mum, Laurie, might just have to add to the ink she and two others got after the Olympics.

“She was quoted on the doco (Hold Back the River) saying she’d get another one for the Comm Games,” Cherry laughed.

“She’ll have a full tatt sleeve soon.”