Two down, two to go for Aussie womens team

Rugby World Cup 7s - Womens
by Sam Phillips

Two down, two to go.

That’s the message from Australian women’s Sevens coach John Manenti, who gave his side a pass mark after comprehensive victories over PNG and Spain on the opening day of the Sevens World Cup.

There were clearly some cobwebs which needed to be blown out but all in all, the Australians were only outplayed by New Zealand on day one - who amassed 102 points without conceding a try in their matches against Mexico and Ireland.

“I was really pleased with how we played against Spain - I thought we were much more clinical,” Manenti said.

“We held the ball, achieved a few more things which we wanted to do.

“The first game was pleasing in the sense that we had to make a start and there were three girls that hadn’t played for a while.

“It’s also a pretty emotional sort of day.

“It was ok and with respect to PNG, they’re not on the circuit and we knew that Spain would give us some headaches.

“It was a challenge for us and I thought we rose to the task in putting in a big performance.”

It was the usual stars which shined for Manenti’s side on Saturday (AEST) but each player, in his eyes, played their part.

A hat trick for Vani Pelite against Spain was just rewards for a stellar all round start to the tournament, while Alicia Quirk played an understated role in midfield.

Charlotte Caslick cut a confident figure in taking the line on and Emilee Cherry was her typical, ubiquitous self.

“That’s (Quirk’s) job - she’s the intellectual one and she’s the one that organises and choreographs some things for the other girls,” Manenti said.

“You can’t underestimate her role.

“Charlie is seeing space and taking opportunities, Vani has been outstanding and Demi has gone really well.

“She has played two full games and I’m really happy.

“Emile Cherry is really consistent and Ellia has come off the bench and done really well.

“Everyone did their job and when we do that we are playing good footy.”

Manenti kept his cards close to his chest when asked whether Ellia Green may play a more prominent role in the semi final showdown with France, mindful of the toll being placed on her body upon return from a knee injury.

“She’s still coming off a big break from footy and whether she starts the game or finishes the game or plays through the middle she’s a star,” he said.

“We will assess and see who we are up against and obviously Emma has been doing a brilliant job and offers something different to the straight out power of Ellia.

“I’m lucky to have options and I’ll have another think as to how we go about using them tonight.”

France are the rising stars of the women’s competition and they beat crowd favourites Canada in a thrilling quarter final.

Manenti  is wary of the threat they pose, with New Zealand likely awaiting the Australians should they push past Les Blues.

“They’ve gone through the roof, France, they offer a lot of threats,” he said.

“They’re on the up and up and I’ve been really impressed with them.”