Kitakyushu Sevens: Aussie women finish sixth

Womens - Kitakyushu
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Australia’s women have finished sixth overall at the Kitakyushu Sevens after a 34-26 loss to New Zealand in their fifth-place final.

New Zealand burst out of the blocks with five unanswered tries to kick off the clash and Australia simply couldn’t find their way back into the contest.

The Aussies stormed home but even a late run of tries couldn't reverse the result.

The result is the lowest Australian finish since a seventh-placing in Canada back in the 2014-15 season, and just second finish outside the top four since that tournament.

A deft Ruby Tui offload put Sarah Hirini through a gap in the Australian defence and over the line for the first try of the game.

Kiwi debutant Dhys Faleafaga had the second, outmuscling a determined Mahalia Murphy to dot one down in the corner.

They had yet another off the next restart, through Alena Saili.

Felafaga had the last pass in Hirini’s second, after fending off two Australian defenders, and a Ruby Tui score on half-time left the equation at 29 points for the Aussies.

It was the restarts where New Zealand were able to eke out dominance, with the Aussies only winning one in the first half and barely touching the ball.

Things went from bad to worse for Australia with Emma Tonegato sent to the bin just one minute into the second half and Tyla Nathan-Wong capitalised, scoring off her own grubber.

Mahalia Murphy fought her way through the Kiwi defence to finally break Australia’s duck with four minutes to play.

Ellia Green sparked a mini-Aussie resurgence with her 100th career try in the 12th minute, with Emma Sykes and Charlotte Caslick adding to the scoreline in the final two minutes.

It was all left too late, though, with an eight-point final margin relegating them out of the top five.

FIFTH-PLACE SEMI-FINAL

Australia will face New Zealand in the fifth-place final at Kitakyushu after a 29-7 win over Ireland in their semi-final.

An Emma Tonegato double helped the Aussies seal the victory, with tries in either half putting Australia in control.

Ireland had the lion’s share of possession in the opening minutes with the pressure all on the Australians to keep them out.

Emma Sykes had the opener before Ireland’s Aimee Leigh Murphy Crowe responded to narrow the gap to two points.

Tonegato found herself on the end of a no-look Evania Pelite pass just on halftime to stretch Australia’s lead to 12-7 at the break.

It was Tonegato who found the line first in the second half as well, taking her tournament tally to six with one game left.

Caslick added another to Australia’s tally with two minutes to go, running a strong support line for Ellia Green and collecting an offload to score.

Sariah Paki sealed the game with a try after full-time.

CUP QUARTER-FINAL

Sharni Williams and Vani Pelite at Kitakyushu. Photo: Getty imagesAustralia’s women will have to fight it out for fifth place in Kitakyushu after a 21-7 quarter-final loss to England.

England had the first score of the game, with Alex Matthews dragging Sammie Treherne over the line in the third minute.

Rookie Sariah Paki found herself in the bin in the seventh minute and England immediately put pressure on the Australian defence.

Matthews’ score was still the difference at the break after a failed cross-field kick attempt from England.

England were over again just after half-time with Helena Rowland finishing off a slick set play started at the lineout.

The Aussies were limited in their space and freedom by England’s stifling defence and they were camped in their own 22 as the half ticked down.

Their first serious chance of the half was snuffed out with an Emma Tonegato pass intercepted by Holly Aitcheson, who sprinted away to score.

Tonegato looked for redemption with a superb break but England’s defence managed to stop that and win a turnover to  all but assure them of victory.

The speedster managed to score a consolation try on the full-time hooter but it was too little, too late for Australia.

Earlier in the day, the USA shocked New Zealand to knock the reigning champions out of the cup competition.

Canada and the USA will face off in the semi with England to meet the winner of France and Ireland.

RESULTS

Cup Quarter-final

Australia 7 - England 21

Fifth-place Semi-final

Australia 29 - Ireland 7

Fifth-place final

Australia 26 - New Zealand 34