Defending champions New Zealand, 2018 silver medallists Australia and bronze medallists USA recorded three wins from three on day one of the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford on Saturday.
New Zealand will face Spain in the opening Cup quarter-final at 09:18 local time (GMT-7) on Sunday after they edged Kitakyushu runners-up England – the only side to beat them in 27 matches now in this event – 12-10 in the Pool B decider.
The second quarter-final is a North American affair with USA facing Canada after the Women’s Sevens Eagles topped Pool C and the hosts were beaten 29-12 by Australia in the Pool A decider.
Australia’s reward is a Cup quarter-final with Russia, with England to meet France in the other.
In the Challenge Trophy semi-finals, Ireland will face China before Fiji tackle Brazil
Day one round up
Australia, runners-up in Langford last year, took a little time to find their groove against Ireland but first-half tries from Alicia Quirk, Lily Dick and Charlotte Caslick eased any nerves. Evania Pelite and Ellia Green kept the scoreboard ticking over, the latter after Anna McGann had been sin-binned, with Ireland only able to score a consolation try after the final hooter through Hannah Tyrrell as they went down 33-7. Canada captain Ghislaine Landry had the home crowd on their feet when she capitalised on a Brazil turnover to run in the opening try, but with Kayla Moleschi in the sin-bin for a high tackle the Brazilians took the lead after Bianca Silva broke free. Moleschi made amends to edge Canada ahead again on the stroke of half-time and the hosts didn’t look back with Emma Chown, Charity Williams (2) and Karen Paquin scoring to wrap up a 38-7 victory.
Brazil scored straight from the kick-off against Australia in their next match, Bianca Silva catching the ball and charging through a gap for her second of the tournament, but that merely fired up the Olympic champions with Green running in two of four first-half tries for a 26-7 cushion at the break. Seventeen-year-old Sariah Paki added one of Australia’s three tries in the second half as Brazil bravely battled to the final whistle, going down 43-7. Canada then set up the expected pool decider with Australia, but only after recovering from conceding an early try by Ireland captain Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe. Brittany Benn’s try tied the scores at 5-5 at the break, before Landry and a Paquin double saw the more experienced Canadians home to a 22-5 victory.
Ireland knew they needed to beat Brazil by a big margin if they were to boost their hopes of a Cup quarter-final as one of the two best third-placed teams and two early tries by Murphy Crowe gave them the perfect platform to do so. Bianca Silva did score next for Brazil, but it was all Ireland then with Eve Higgins and Deirbhile Nic A Bhaird among their try scorers in a 32-7 victory. In the battle for top spot, Canada struck first to the delight of the vocal crowd after Julia Greenshields raced away for a first-minute try only for Caslick and Pelite to respond to give Australia a 14-7 lead at half-time. Bianca Farella found a way over in the corner with Landry’s conversion tying the scores, but Australia were not to be denied top spot with Green (2) and Tonegato touching down to secure a 29-12 victory and end Canada’s winning streak at a best-ever 10 matches.
Michaela Blyde announced her return to the Black Ferns Sevens after injury in impressive fashion, stepping her way through five Russian players to run in the tournament’s opening try from her own 22 in the first minute before beating her marker to score another from slightly closer long after the half-time hooter had sounded. A great break from Alena Mikhaltsova sent Elena Zdrokova over for Russia’s only try but Kelly Brazier and Niall Williams tries wrapped up a 26-7 win. England kicked off their bid for a second title in Langford with a convincing 38-0 victory over China, Celia Quansah scoring twice in the first half with Holly Aitchison, Abbie Burton, Helena Rowland and Emma Uren also crossing the try-line.
New Zealand picked up where they had left off in game one with a 45-0 defeat of China in round two, Williams scoring the opening try with barely 30 seconds on the clock. Blyde, Ruby Tui, Dhys Faleafaga, Brazier, Chey Robins-Reti and Terina Te Tamaki also crossed as the defending champions had too much firepower for their opponents. England then had to wait until the sixth minute to open the scoring against Russia, Rowland’s quick tap catching the defence napping barely a minute after the TMO had ruled out a try for Baziat Khamidova after she touched it down on the dead-ball line. Russia hit back with a length of the field try by Daria Shestakova and another run-in by Zdrokova either side of half-time, but it was England who made it two wins from two with Abbie Brown and Aitchison dotting down.
Three first-half tries by Khamidova, Anna Gavrilyuk and Diana Glushenko put Russia in the driving seat against China in the battle for third place. Yu Liping scored China’s first try of the weekend just before half-time, but a Mikhaltsova double wrapped up a 33-12 victory that was enough to secure a quarter-final spot as the second-best third-placed team. England had not beaten the Black Ferns Sevens since the 2016 Cup final in Langford but a break from Ellie Kildunne saw her score the opening try despite a incredible chase from Tyla Nathan-Wong. Some quick footwork by Alena Saili created the space for her to dart through and make it 5-5 at half-time, but the New Zealand defence then opened for Aitchison to put England in front once more. It wasn’t meant to be, though, as Sarah Hirini went over with Nathan-Wong’s conversion ultimately proving the difference between the teams in a narrow 12-10 victory.
Fiji lost Asinate Savu to the sin-bin for a high tackle at the kick-off and France created space for Shannon Izar out wide to score the opening try. However, once back to full complement a double by Tokasa Seniyasi gave Fijiana a 14-5 half-time lead. A physical display looked set to be France’s undoing but they turned it around in the final two minutes with tries from Caroline Drouin and Anne-Cécile Ciofani securing a 19-14 victory for Les Bleues. Spain started brightly against USA, working Maria Casado over for the opening try in her 30th series tournament. A dropped pass then fell nicely for Marina Bravo who had Elisabet Martinez in support for a 12-0 half-time lead. María García thought she’d scored a third try but had knocked on in stretching to reach the line and instead found herself chasing in vain as Kristi Kirshe raced 70 metres to score USA’s first try. That was swiftly followed by tries from co-captain Nicole Heavirland and Alev Kelter as USA, just like France before then, escaped with a narrow victory, this time 21-12.
Spain also scored first in their second match against France, Bárbara Plà anticipating Les Bleues captain Fanny Horta’s pass to intercept and race clear from her own half. Horta was unable to find Ciofani with the try-line in sight, but France didn’t have long to wait for a try after Coralie Bertrand slipped Patricia García’s tackle to level at 7-7. María García edged Spain ahead again before half-time, only for Horta and Nassira Konde to make it 19-12 to France. Spain scored with the final play through Paula Requena but Patricia García couldn’t add the conversion for a draw. USA then scored at the start and end of the first half against Fiji through Naya Tapper and Kelter but Ana Maria Naimasi’s try in between kept her side in the game at half-time. The Women’s Sevens Eagles, though, added further tries through Abby Gustaitis and Tapper for a 28-7 victory.
The day’s penultimate match had more than just a possible Cup quarter-final place at stake with Spain and Fiji both knowing that victory could also ease the threat of losing their core team status for next season. Savu broke free of the Spanish defence for the opening try, but Patricia García stepped powerfully off her left foot to score her 49th series try before Requena sent Las Leonas into half-time with a 14-7 lead. Akanisi Sokoiwasa drew Fiji level but, after Casado touched the ball down just short of the line, Spain sealed a 21-14 victory by working Requena over in the corner for the 100th try of the day. USA then proved too strong for a subdued France side in the pool decider, Kirshe’s pace taking her away from Izar for the first try before Joanne Fa’avesi shrugged off the tackle of Camille Grassineau for a 12-0 half-time lead. France thought they had got on the scoreboard while Kelter was in the sin-bin, but Ciofani was deemed not to have grounded the ball and USA saw the game out.
Day two of the action gets underway at Westhills Stadium at 09:18 local time (GMT-7) on Sunday 13 May.
Courtesy of World Rugby