Story IRB World Rugby / Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN) – Take a packed stadium, warm sunshine on the west coast of Canada, throw in 12 of the world’s best women’s sevens teams and what do you have? One of the best days of sevens action the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series has seen since it kicked off three years ago.
Fiji looked to keep up with the highflying other teams, but were unable to mount many sustained attacking drives, however did score on this one. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
And guess what? There’s still another day to come.
The day ended with an absolute classic between rivals Canada and USA, with a fantastic try by Ghislaine Landry winning it for Canada, much to the delight of the home crowd.
The quarter-finalists have been set for day two after a tremendous day of action in Westhills Stadium, Langford, British Columbia, with hosts Canada, reigning champions New Zealand and Australia unbeaten after day one.
Fiji tried to reign in New Zealand, but was unsucessful, dropping a 38-14 decision – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Australia will play Russia in the first of Sunday’s quarter finals, USA will play France in what could be a tense battle for fourth place in the standings, New Zealand will play Fiji for the second time in the tournament and Canada were rewarded for their efforts with last-eight clash with England.
Canada’s Karen Paquin out hustles a USA defender as she advances the ball for her team – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The Bowl semi finals will be contested between Brazil and South Africa on Sunday, followed by Spain v China.
New Zealand were on song on Saturday as the sun beamed down on Westhills Stadium. Despite some resistance early on, they beat a physical Fiji (38-14) and dispatched their Spanish opponents (45-10).
New Zealand’s Broughton runs for the try line, as she did many times during the day, with a Spanish defender in tow – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmeida.ca)
Fiji and England served up a classic in the afternoon. England looked to be in control with the impressive Amy Wilson-Hardy going under the sticks early. Joanne Watmore and Lavenia Tinai bagged a brace each, leaving it 19-12 with just minutes left. All looked lost for the islanders but a period of pressure paid off with Savu going between the posts with seconds remaining. An important conversion saw the game finish level, 19-19.
England clears the ball out of the scrum before New Zealand defenders converge. New Zealand would come away with the win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The highlight of Pool A saw England take on New Zealand with England’s Amy Wilson-Hardy again scoring two in a match that had everything – tries, tension, physicality and effort. Despite England sticking with Sean Horan’s girls for most of the game, crucial tries from Gayle Broughton and Portia Woodman meant New Zealand ended the day unbeaten.
Pool B saw Australia looking to make up for a sub-standard performance in the last round in Atlanta, and France aiming to come away with their fourth-placed position in the standings intact, with Olympic qualification looming.
In an mid-morning matchup, Australia dumped Brazil 43-0. Australia would finish the day undefeated – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
France impressed against China in the first game of the day (29-0) before beating Brazil (27-5.) Australia’s winger Elliah Green scored a whopping five tries as her side beat Brazil (43-0) and then easily dismissed China (40-0).
It came down to a stand-off at the end of the day between the heavyweights, with France starting the brighter and Biscarat scoring first. However, Australia imposed themselves into the match and yet another two tries from Elliah Green, as well as touchdowns from Emma Tonegato and captain Sharni Williams, sealed it for the Australians who finished top of the pool.
Australia’s Ellia Green was dangerous for the side down under – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
If there’s one thing an already-vocal crowd in Canada loves, it’s a battle with the old enemy, and Westhills Stadium was rocking by the time USA and Canada took to the field for the last game of the day.
With the home crowd roaring their girls on, Canada swept away South Africa earlier in the day (47-0) and put Russia to the sword (26-15). The Americans had a tougher time against a strong Russian side but managed to get the win, 17-14.
Brittany Benn and a South African collide in a challenge for the ball – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Team Canada’s Ashley Steacy tries to bring down a Russian runner. Canada prevailed 26-15. – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
The stage was set for a classic showdown and the two nations did not disappoint. Hard work by stand-in captain Ashley Steacy saw her open the scoring for Canada, but that was soon cancelled out by USA speedster Lauren Doyle. A fine converted score by try-machine Ghislaine Landry just before the break put Canada in the driving seat, but a try in the same corner at the start of the second half by USA number 3 Meghan Bonnie left it 12-10 with four minutes left. The crowd was silenced again a few minutes later when Lauren Doyle went over in the corner again to go 15-12 in front.
Brittany Benn of Team Canada looks to run past USA’s Victoria Folayan in the final match of the day – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Fans were only just catching their breath again, when Ghislaine Landry got on the end of some superb work by the Canadians in the middle of the park, and Westhills Stadium shook as the speedy number 9 went over to register 194 points for the season so far, and won the game for the hosts, which triggered racous celebrations in the grandstand.
Karen Paquin thanks teammate Ghislaine Landry after Landry score the winning try against the USA in a pivotal match up Saturday night – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Speaking after the final whistle Canadian coach John Tait said: “We were pretty clinical against South Africa which is good but a litte imaptient against USA. It was good to have a good pressure game ahead of tomorrow’s knockout rounds. The girls are enjoying the crowds and they’ve helped the performance.”
“The USA game was a battle, and obviously we had to fight right to the bitter end. We knew that it was gonna be really loud but that gave us even more energy and I think we managed it really well,” said captain and try-scorer Ashley Steacy.
Captain Ashley Steacy shifts gears directly post game to celebrate with a young rugby fan – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
“We’ve made it a personal oath to put the pressure on the other team instead of ourselves, and use the positive energy tomorrow as well.”
The action resumes on Sunday morning from the Westhills Stadium in Langford BC, when the first quarter final kicks-off at 10.00 am (GMT – 8) All matches will be streamed live on worldrugby.org with geo-blocking in some regions.