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NZ, Aus Happy With Debuts

  • 20 Jul 2018
  • 38 Views

Australian try-scorer Ellia Green / Photo: Mike Lee / KLC fotos for World Rugby

Aside from the home team, New Zealand and Australia are arguably the most attention-grabbing sides at the Rugby World Cup Sevens (RWC 7s). The duo entered the tournament ranked 1 and 2, and account for the reigning RWC 7s champion, Rio Olympics champion and 2017-18 Women’s Sevens Series (WSS) champion.

Australia started its day with a 34-5 Round of 16 win over Papua New Guinea.

“We headed off to a bit of a rusty start there but we finished it off on a really good note,” Australia co-captain Sharni Williams said. “With our world series we normally come out not firing at the start so we wanted to come out firing. We just had to pick out the things that we needed to work on, and that was our set piece. We executed that toward the end so it was a really good performance by the girls.”

Papua New Guinea doesn’t compete on the WSS and so there isn’t a ton of history between it and Australia.

“They’re a bit of a mixed package for us,” Williams said.

Charlotte Caslick / Photo: Mike Lee / KLC fotos for World Rugby

“That’s what 7s is about, it’s with any team,” the co-captain said of Papua New Guinea’s surprise factor. “You can analyze them … and you can be very precise in understanding each individual player, but when it comes to the day, at 7s anyone can be performing very well. It just depends on what the team throws at you on the day.”

In the end, Charlotte Caslick (2), Evania Pelite, Emilee Cherry, Emma Tonegato and Ellia Green scored for Australia, and Cherry tacked on two conversions. The team will face Spain, which defeated Fiji 19-12 in the tournament’s first game of the day, in the Cup quarterfinals at 5:52 p.m. Pacific.

“We know they’re pretty tough and that we’ve got to come with that Aussie mongrel,” Williams said of Spain. “We need to come out firing. We need to be better when we come out that next game.”

As Australia exited the pitch, New Zealand trotted onto it to face Mexico, which also does not play on the WSS.

Nathan Wong during the ’17-’18 WSS / Photo: Mike Lee / KLC fotos for World Rugby

“For us, first of all, it was just making sure that we stick to our basics – our catch-pass, early catch, all that stuff. And we knew that if we were able to lock that down that would definitely help us win this game,” Black Ferns’ Tyla Nathan Wong said. “To be able to spread the ball and make them really work to chase to us – that’s what we ended up doing out there and hopefully we can bring that accuracy and skill level to the next game.”

New Zealand won 57-0 and saw Sarah Goss score three tries, Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde dot down two apiece, and Kelly Brazier and Stacey Waaka add one each. Nathan Wong added six conversions as well.

“Even though the score might start getting out there, you still have to do the basics,” Nathan Wong said of focus. “For me, personally, being the kicker, I make sure I go through the same exact process for every kick no matter what, because at the end of the day it’s going to be good practice and good quality time on the field, and [you] bring it to the next game coming up.”

As for setting the tone for the tournament, both New Zealand and Australia were happy with their first run-outs.

“We wanted to come out here, have fun and embrace this awesome atmosphere that’s going on,” Nathan Wong said. “It’s incredible to be able to kick off our World Cup like that and hopefully we can bring that to the next game.”

New Zealand returns to the pitch at 5:30 p.m. Pacific and will face Ireland in the Cup quarterfinals.

For the full list of fixtures and results, visit rwcsevens.com.

Australia #NewZealand #2018RugbyWorldCup7s

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