Australia entered the second day of the Sydney Sevens, first in their pool.
After a fantastic first day at the Sydney 7s, which saw Australia win its first two pool games and outscore its opponents 67-0, the home nation was hoping to continue its winning streak on the second and final day of the tournament.
Australia started the day with their last pool match. This match proved to be it's most important in the pool stage. Whomever would win the Aussie-France game would be assured a place in the semi-finals.
Third Pool Game: Australia v France
The French were the first to show attacking strength, putting on the same pressure the Aussies faced when they lost to the French in last week’s Hamilton 7s, 3rd place final.
Australia were able to contain their familiar opponent and showed a physical defensive effort of their own.
However, the tide turned when Ellia Green picked up a loose ball and attempted to sprint forward. Brought down by a French player, Australia managed to remain in possession of the ball. They then continued to work their way forward through passing and running plays.
Australia broke the deadlock in the 4’ minute. After a series of attacking phases, Emma Tonegato picked up a loose ball at the 22-metre mark which Charlotte Caslick had dropped during a tackle. Tonegato then ran it for the host’s first try. After the conversion, Australia were up 7-0.
The French then tried to attack but found their attempts suffocated by a strong and physical Australian defence.
After the Aussies gained the ball and proceeded to pass it from right to left, Green then continued the scoring account. In the first seconds of extra time, she found space on the left-hand side of the pitch and ran a try in. This and the subsequent conversion put the Aussies up 14-0 entering half time.
The second half started as the first half had proceeded. A good contest for both teams, it required a tough defensive effort by both the French and the Aussies.
The French were able to put their first points on the board in the 10’ minute. After Camille Grassineau picked up the ball off a French kick, she passed it to teammate Chloe Pelle. Despite being 10 metres in her own half the French woman ran it in for a try.
The scoreline was now 14-5, still in Australia’s favour.
Off the restart, France had another instant response. Séraphine Okemba used her height and was able to outjump Caslick to pick up the ball. She then ran the ball in for a second French try at the 11’ minute. After a second failed French conversion, the scoreline was Australia 14-10 France.
The French pressure continued and in the final seconds of the half they were in good scoring position, looking prime to get a try and win.
However, an Emilie Cherry interception, and subsequent kick out of bounds ensured the win and automatic Aussie progression to the semi-finals.
Through their final pool position, as the highest placed second-ranked team, the French also progressed to the semi-finals. A win over New Zealand would mean that the Aussies could meet them again in the final, should they also win their semi-finals. The same situation would occur if both of them lost.
The Australians next met with 3rd ranked Canada in the semi-final. A physical team like the French, this would not be an easy game for the home nation. Australia had met the Canadians 3 times this series, drawing once and losing twice.
The latest Australian loss to the Canadians was in the semi-finals of last weekend’s Hamilton 7s.
Semi-Final: Australia v Canada
The first half started with frenetic pace and physicality. The Australians initially had the ball but turned it over to the Canadians in their own half. After an injury to Emilee Cherry, Australia found themselves defending with only six women.