Australia claim Dubai crown in strong season opener


Australia have got their 2017/18 women’s sevens campaign off to a flying start, winning the series opener after thrashing the United States 34-0 in Dubai.

The Rio Olympic champions were undefeated in their three pool matches on Thursday before beating England and Canada in the quarter and semi-finals respectively. The US had a shock last-eight win over New Zealand before beating Russia to qualify for the decider.

Emma Tonegato, who was named player of the final, opened the scoring before co-captain Sharni Williams added a second. Evania Pelite ensured Australia headed into the break with a three-try buffer and Emilee Cherry didn’t take long to score her second when proceedings resumed.

Dominique du Toit completed the rout with a late double.

Williams was impressed with the performance, the side’s first tournament win since Atlanta last year.

“We’re absolutely ecstatic with that win. It’s been a long time coming since that last gold medal,” she said.

“The girls have worked extremely hard in the pre-season and it’s great to get the rewards for that.”

The Black Ferns were able to bounce back from their shock quarter-final loss to trounce France 24-0 and seal fifth place, while England fell to lowly eighth position after going down to Spain in the seventh place play-off.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the tournament was Russia’s bronze place finish after they narrowly defeated Canada 10-5.

Australia’s men booked their quarter-final spot despite going down to Fiji in the match of the day.

The Australians scored in the first minute through Sam Myers, Fiji replied and they went tit-for-tat to halftime with Fiji ahead 14-12.

The same happened in a cracking second half as Australia scored first, and Fiji levelled to 21-21 with Jerry Tuwai involved for the third time with the steal, weaving run and offload to substitute John Stewart. Stewart also scored the winner to make it 26-19.

Coach Andy Friend said: “We’ll give ourselves a pass mark for today. We are through to the Quarters which is pleasing. I thought there was a lot of good things but again some lessons for us in our ability to close out games.”

Australia will face England on Saturday.

The series next heads to Sydney over the Australia Day weekend from January 26-28.

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