The Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens team has steamrolled through to the Quarter Finals of the final leg of the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series in Clermont-Ferrand, France, with convincing wins over Spain (41-0), Fiji (35-5) and France (20-17).
Their undefeated run saw them finish top of Pool C, and they will now take on the USA in the Quarter Final at 12.22am, Sunday 25 June.
Aussie 7s stalwart Emilee Cherry and newcomer Cassie Staples were both in great form, scoring four tries each to top the Clermont Sevens Top Try Scorer’s List, but Head Coach Tim Walsh said it was the team’s defensive efforts that were most impressive.
“We had a fantastic start against Spain – both very clinical in the way we executed the game plan and the big thing was our defense, keeping them to zero. We took that into Fiji and showed some really good resilience in that defensive line,” he said.
“Playing France in France, it was always going to be a massive game…The French were very good at the breakdown and managed to steal the ball three times from us and our defensive line became a bit disconnected at times as well so they certainly exposed us a bit in that area. If we want to go on and win this tournament we certainly can’t defend like that tomorrow against the USA.
“But we came here to win the three games today, and we got the job done and we’re going to take the positives from that and deliver tomorrow.
“The USA are a physical team, they’ve got one of the best players in the Series in Alev Kelter – a very physical player and strong runner – and they’ve got speed to burn, so they’re a very well balanced team. We’re going to have to be on our game but I think player for player we’ve got their measure. If we perform and execute what we’re planning to, it should be a good result.”
The Aussie 7s currently sit in the third position on the HSBC Women’s Sevens World Series ladder, behind Canada on points difference. Both teams sit on 82 points with New Zealand in the lead on 96 points.
Australia 41 defeated Spain 0
Australia kicked off with gusto thanks to an Emilee Cherry try in the first twenty seconds, which she followed up minutes later with another. Youngster Emma Sykes converted both tries. New Aussie 7s recruit Cassie Staples was next over the line for Australia with the 22-year-old’s pace on the wing too much for the Spanish defense. Dominating possession in the second half, Australia kept the tries coming in rapid succession through Emma Sykes, Evania Pelite, Cassie Staples and Alicia Quirk, pushing the lead out to 41-0 by full time.
Australia 35 defeated Fiji 5
Australia’s again defense stepped up to keep the flying Fijians scoreless in the first half while Chloe Dalton, Charlotte Caslick, and Cassie Staples ran in tries which were all converted by Dalton. Keeping their foot firmly on the gas in the second half, Australia continued to pressure the island nation and Emilee Cherry steamrolled over the line and Dalton converted. Fiji was rewarded for their determination with a try to Tinai, but the Australians responded with another try to Demi Hayes, which Brooke Walker converted, to finish the match with a 35-5 scoreline.
Australia 20 defeated France 17
The home side crossed the line first through captain Montserrat Amedee, but Australian captain Sharni Williams was quick to retaliate with Australia’s first five-pointer. A hole in the defense allowed Amedee to cross for another but once again their joy was shortlived as Australia countered, this time through Cassie Staples on the wing who shrugged of multiple defenders to score in the corner. Some quick thinking after a penalty 15m from the line allowed Emilee Cherry to tap and go and register Australia’s third try to leave the score at 15-12 at halftime. In the second half, Alicia Quirk ran in a try off a perfectly timed Chloe Dalton pass, but with another missed conversion, France continued to threaten the Australians. After jostling for possession, it was eventually the home side who scored after the full-time buzzer but it was too little too late, and the Aussies took the win, 20-17.