Women's Sydney 7s: Aussies to face Ireland in semi-finals, Fiji claim Challenge Trophy

Womens - Sydney
by RUGBY.com.au

Australia will meet Ireland in the Sydney 7s Cup semi-finals, guaranteed a top four spot on home soil.

The Aussies beat France in the quarter to set up a final four match up against the Irish while New Zealand and the USA will meet in the other semi.

Fiji beat out England in the Challenge Trophy to wrap up day two of Sydney 7s.

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For live scorers, click here.

6:30pm - Semi-final schedule

So, that's a wrap here for the women on day two. It's an early start for them on Sunday, with the first game at 8:50am AEDT.

Cup Semi-finals stand as below (AEDT):

9:34am - New Zealand vs USA

9:56am - Ireland vs Australia

6:15pm - Fijians claim Challenge Trophy 

A jubilant Fiji held off England in a hard-fought Challenge Cup final 15-12. England scored first but Fiji's three subsequent tries were enough to see them claim the win, even after the English scored late and made a fight of it.

The defeat continues a disappointing season for the English women's side.

3:36pm - Manenti pleased with fired-up Aussies

A rev-up from coach John Manenti to get physical in the wet was the key for the Australian women’s sevens team to beat France and progress to the Sydney 7s semi-finals against Ireland.

After struggling with the drizzly conditions on Friday, the Aussies muscled up in a big way and saw off the ever-difficult French, who played the villains when tipping Manenti’s team out of the World Cup last year.

Led by the ultra-physical Ellia Green in defence, the Australians led 21-5 before France fought back. But the home crowd were pumped when the Australians held on to win.

“I feel relieved, very much so. France are a quality side, they have been playing good, they’re tough, they match up well against us. The conditions weren’t perfect for what we want to do but really happy to get through that,” Manenti said.

After losing their third pool match to the USA, Manenti said he’d called on parts of his old 15s coaching speeches to get the Aussies in the right mindset for the quarter.

“It was very much about embracing the conditions. They are what they are. I went a bit old school and 15s style and said if you embrace it and get stuck into it, you’ll find it isn’t an issue,” Manenti said.

“Whereas I think yesterday they felt very much hamstrung by it and didn’t play how they needed to play. I thought Ellia was absolutely immense in defence. We know what she can do it attack but she really set a tone and once she started doing that everyone went with her.”

“You have got to be physical. You don’t beat the French unless you’re prepared to match them physically,” Manenti said.

John Manenti had plenty of praise for Aussie co-captain Sharni Williams. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyGreen shrugged off a three-stitch cut above her left eye to throw herself into several huge tackles.

“She can barely see out of the eye. I said are you okay with that and she said ‘I’m fine’,” Manenti said.

“Her blood sort of boils when she gets into the contest so like I said , that set a standard and everyone jumped in behind her and that was great.”

Manenti also paid credit to skipper Sharni Williams, who stepped up in the absence of Shannon Parry, Emilee Cherry and Charlotte Caslick and was a workhorse in both defence and attack.

Australia will play in the semi-final on Sunday morning against Ireland, who qualified for their first ever semi.

The team is coached by Australian Anthony Eddy, who was the national women's Sevens coach prior to Tim Walsh taking over.

“They’re a really improved side over the last 12 months,” Manenti said.

“Anthony Eddy is their coach, he has coached most of these (Australian) girls for a long time.

“He knows our game really well and always challenges us. The last time we played them was in Colorado and we scored in the last 20-30 seconds to win the game. It is going to be a hell of a contest and they’re going to be pumped to make their first final.

“I wouldn’t mind a 30-degree day, I’ll be honest. These conditions are custom made for them. They’re used to playing wet weather footy and very good at it. They’re very strong around the breakdown and have some good speed. But the hotter and drier the better.”

The Aussies take on Ireland in the semi-finals at 9:56am AEDT on Sunday.


Australia will face off against Ireland in Sunday's cup semi-finals after a 21-17 win over France in their quarter-final on Saturday.

Ellia Green set the physical tone that kept the Aussies on top of the French in the grind showing the other side of her usually flashy game with a monster hit in the opening minute and an aggressive back and forth with some French attackers.

The Aussies were on the back foot early but a super Evania Pelite turnover took the pressure off deep in defence.

That didn't last long, as the French disrupted their lineout and forced a scrum.

It took the Aussies until the fifth minute to break their duck and they had to be patient, drawing defenders and throwing offloads until Emma Sykes finally found a gap and turned on the afterburners to evade the French and score.

The Aussie women  are through to the Cup semi-finals. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleySharni Williams used some slick footwork to score the Aussies' second just before half-time.

France's Carla Niesen powered over with the last play of the half to narrow the margin to nine points.

It was a sloppy start to the second half but youngster Lily Dick broke the deadlock and rewarding some relentless defence from the hosts.

France hit back midway through the second half, slipping out of an Alicia Quirk tackle attempt on the way to the line.

An attempt from Emma Tonegato to hold up a French attacker fell just millimetres short as France went over but it was the Aussies who ultimately held on for the quarter-final victory.

Ireland will be there waiting for the Aussies after cruising past Spain in their final eight clash, 22-7.

The Irish were tested at times but never really looked like losing against the Spanish, a sign of their growing improvement on the circuit.

The USA will face New Zealand in the other Cup semi-final after edging past Russia in their quarter-final.

Trailing 5-0 for much of the game, the USA scored in the final minutes to draw ahead and set up a semi date with America.

New Zealand is guaranteed another top four finish in Sydney after a 17-7 quarter-final win over Canada.

The Kiwis' offload game proved the difference against Canada, whose defence did its best to trip up the World Series leaders.

Phase after phase, the Kiwis were able to keep the ball alive and that skill twice led to tries, keeping the Canadians at arm's length.

Canada had a handful of chances to hit back and even potentially hit the lead but basic mistakes and New Zealand's pressure stopped them from adding to a sole try.

They will be sweating on an injury to Tyla Nathan-Wong, who was carried off by trainers at half-time with a leg issue.


New Zealand 17 - Canada 7

USA 7 - 5 Russia

Ireland 22 - Spain 7

Australia 21 - France 17


England will play off against Fiji in Saturday evening's Challenge trophy final after a 54-0 win over PNG.

The English have had a patchy weekend and a patchy World Series but they had no issues getting over the invitational side.

Fiji edged out China in their match to set up the decider.


Challenge Trophy semis

England 54 - PNG 0

Fiji 12 - China 0

11:02am - Day one

It was an interesting day one in Sydney as the Aussie women qualified for the Cup quarter-finals in Sydney.

New Zealand made it through as the only undefeated side and will take on an uncharacteristically inconsistent Canada in their final eight match.