Sevens: Aussies top pool at Glendale Sevens after day one success

Womens - Colorado
by Emma Greenwood

Australia have opened their Sevens World Series campaign in style, topping their pool in Colorado after surviving a scare against Canada in the final fixture of the opening day.

The Glendale Sevens opens the 2020 season, a campaign that marks the rundown to Australia's Olympic title defence in Tokyo next year.

In Pool C, Australia won their opening matches against Spain 31-5 and Fiji 35-7 to seal a place in the Cup quarter-finals but needed to beat Canada to top their pool and secure the best path for day two.

Cassie Staples in action in Australia's win against Spain. Photo: World Rugby

But after an Ellia Green try put them up 26-21 in the final seconds, Australia conceded a try after the siren to Charity Williams, with only the Canadians' missed conversion handing them a draw.

Australia then topped their pool courtesy of a better points differential, thanks to Canada's tough 19-14 victory over Spain earlier in the day.

 

AUSTRALIA vs SPAIN

The Aussies started their campaign in style, with Emma Tonegato running in a try in the opening minute of the contest, kick-starting their 31-5 win.

Tonegato was in again in the second minute, eventually finishing with a hat-trick after adding a third try in the second half.

Ellia Green and Charlotte Caslick also added tries, with Spain getting a consolation try in the final minute of the contest through replacement Eva Aguirre.

While Green usually beats opponents with pure speed and strength, she played thief this time, stealing the ball at the breakdown to cross for a simple try.

Madison Ashby made her debut for Australia from the bench late in the match, while Olympic gold medalist Cassie Staples returned to the world series.

AUSTRALIA vs FIJI

Charlotte Caslick turned hat-trick hero in Australia's second game, notching a double in the first half to give Australia a 14-0 lead at the break before Fiji hit back in the shadows of halftime to get within a try.

It proved to be a temporary fightback though, with the Aussies extending their lead the following minute as Caslick sealed her treble, before the Aussies finished the match clinically.

Emma Tonegato and Sharni Williams added tries to push the Aussies to a 35-7 win to maintain a perfect record heading into their final Pool C match against Canada.

Sharni Williams all smiles after her try in the Aussies' win over Fiji. Photo: World Rugby

Tonegato's try capped some outstanding work from her and Evania Pelite on the left side, Tonegato notching try number four for the day after their passing interchange.

The pair were at it again in the dying minutes, their quick one-two leading to Pelite finding Williams on the fly, with the veteran notching the final try.

AUSTRALIA vs CANADA

The Aussies started well, building patiently and looked set to capitalise before Ellia Green put down a pass close to the line in the opening minutes, with the turnover leading to a try for Canada, with Bianca Farella's stop-start run bamboozling the Aussie defenders and giving Canada a 7-0 lead.

Emma Tonegato continued her outstanding tournament by opening the score for the Australians in the fifth minute, to get the teams back on terms, before Charlotte Caslick notched her fifth try of the tournament to give the Aussies a 14-7 lead at the break.

But simple mistakes halted the Australians' progress. When Williams' second-half restart sailed out on the full, Canada won the ball on halfway and eventually crossed when the Aussies failed to number up, with Kaili Lukan dotting down to level the scores again.

 

Cassie Staples edged the Aussies ahead again with an outstanding show of skill, soccering a cross-kick ahead, regathering and keeping the ball alive until Williams arrived to recycle before backing up to take the pass to score.

In a see-sawing game, Canada hit back again, through Pam Buisa to level the scores again, before Green made up for her earlier errors, racing almost the length of the field to take Australia to a 26-21 lead with just seconds remaining on the clock.

With the restart after the final siren, Canada had one final chance to attack and made the most of it, with Charity Williams beating five Australian defenders to level the scores, Canada needing only to convert to snatch the win.

The kick missed though, with the 26-26 scoreline leaving Australia on top of Pool C courtesy of their superior points differential.