Dubai: Two decisive results set the tone for the day with England signalling their intent in both instances as the women’s competition opened at the 2018 Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens at The Sevens stadium on Thursday.
Seeded No. 8 in the rankings, England first stunned defending champions Australia 26-12 in their opener and then secured a last-gasp 14-12 result against second-seeded USA to virtually assure themselves of a top placing with one match remaining against China in Group B.
If the pundits thought that the opening match result against the defending champions was an accident, then England showed their true worth later in the evening as Amy Wilson Hardy cut through the middle of the USA defence to level on the hooter leaving Natasha Hunt to convert and bag the narrowest of wins for England.
The third match was a romp as England outclassed China 38-0 to secure their place at the top of the group while earning a quarter-final against defending champions Australia when action resumes on Friday morning.
The clean sheet left England skipper Abigail Brown purring with delight. “All three games were really important to us. We had a stunning one against Australia first thing in the morning and that sort of set the tone for the remaining two games. Finally, it is the hard work and commitment from all the girls that has been awesome and I am so proud of them all,” Brown told Gulf News.
“We showed a lot of heart and desire today and that is exactly what we will come with tomorrow as well. I think the hallmark was that we didn’t ever give up a fight and we showed this in all three games. This was evident especially against the US where we didn’t give up till the final few seconds and that’s how we got that last gasp try. That won us the game,” she added.
Ever since the start of the women’s competition in Dubai much of the limelight has been hogged by either New Zealand or Australia. “Sevens is pretty much end to end stuff and anything can change in a split second. We showed in every second of those 14 minutes that we can go all the way,” Brown observed.
“This has been a journey for us as we are just starting out as a new group. But you can’t teach hard work and that’s something that has been a strong quality in all of us. We have been working hard back in England and our passion and our desire to work for each other has been seen today. So now we pretty much need to do the same things tomorrow and keep going game by game,” she added.
New Zealand and Canada were the other two teams ending their day with clean sheets. The former champions thumped Kenya 34-7 in the opener, followed it up with a 29-12 win over Russia and then secured a hard-fought 24-17 win over Ireland in the last match of the day.
Canada, on the other hand looked to be chasing second in Group C. But it was Charity Williams who cashed in on a fantastic Chloe Pelle tackle on Bianca Farella to come in with a searing try right through the middle with 30 seconds left for the final whistle for an exciting 21-14 result against France. The Pool C match between Canada and France was a repeat of the bronze final at the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens in Glendale, Colorado last month where Canada had triumphed 28-0.
Action will continue with the first of the day’s matches kicking off at 8.40am on Friday.
France x Spain 29-0; Canada x Fiji 38-7; England x Australia 26-12; USA x China 31-0; Ireland x Russia 26-0; New Zealand x Kenya 34-7; France x Fiji 34-15; Canada x Spain 29-7; Australia x China 33-5; England x USA 14-12; Ireland x Kenya 27-12; New Zealand x Russia 29-12; Fiji v Spain 17-5; Canada x France 21-14; England x China 38-0; USA x Australia 22-17; Russia x Kenya 19-0; New Zealand x Ireland 24-17.
Quarter-final line-up: (9.00) New Zealand x Russia; (9.22) USA x France; (9.44) England x Australia; (10.06) Canada x Ireland.