- England defeat World Series leaders Australia
- Canada up next in QF
England Women Sevens booked their place in the quarter-finals of the World Series in Guangzhou, China today (Saturday) with wins over Series leaders Australia and Ireland.
England will now play 2013 Rugby World Cup finalists Canada in the knockout stages on Sunday morning, and England and Canada will be joined by New Zealand, Australia, France, Russia, Fiji and Spain in the final eight.
Simon Middleton’s side, who currently sit fifth in the World Series title race, gave themselves an uphill challenge initially, losing to series newcomers Fiji. The Southern Hemisphere side were the surprise package of the day, also beating Ireland. Asinate Ufia Savu and Luisa Basei Tisolo ran in three tries to England’s two in the 15-12 victory.
England bounced back in their second encounter of the day, taking a narrow 21-19 win over Ireland with Marlie Packer, Emily Scott and Heather Fisher all running in tries. Scott also added three conversions.
In the final match on day one, England took on hot favourites Australia, who this season have picked up tournament wins in Dubai and Brazil. England made an impressive start with Rachael Burford and Fisher running in early tries but the loss of skipper Abigail Chamberlain to the sin-bin saw Australia claw a try back before half-time courtesy of Alicia Quirk, making the score 12-7.
The Wallabies then had the upper hand after the restart with Emilee Cherry adding a converted try and making the score 12-12. A penalty for Saracens’ Sarah McKenna proved decisive though as her successful kick at goal in the last minute of play handed England the 15-12 victory.
Middleton said: “I take my hat off to the players as they managed to turn the day around – we certainly were not at our best in the first two games.
“Against Fiji we were very lethargic and also naïve at the end, although we showed good character to come back from 10-0 down early in the game.
“Similarly against Ireland, while we had a fantastic start and played with lots of intent we lost momentum due to indiscipline. Fair play to the Irish though as they played to the end and came back at us in the second half.
“The players did some honest soul searching between games two and three and they got themselves back on track. They showed that in terms of composure and execution throughout the game against Australia. They played with real intent and commitment.
“Next up is Canada on Sunday and we know how dangerous they can be – we saw that in our third/fourth place play-off against them in Brazil last month. We have to be at our best tomorrow and if we are, we have a good chance of making the semi-final.”
England Women Sevens
Natasha Brennan (Richmond)
Rachael Burford (Thurrock) VC
Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond) C
Megan Ellery (Durham University, Darlington Mowden Park Sharks)
Heather Fisher (Worcester)
Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Marlie Packer (Wasps)
Emily Scott (Thurrock)
Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
Danielle Waterman (Bristol)
England playing schedule:
Saturday, April 5
England 12 Fiji 15
Tries: McKenna, Brennan
England 21 Ireland 19
Tries: Packer, Scott, Fisher,
Conversions: Scott (3)
England 15 Australia 12
Tries: Burford, Fisher,
Sunday, April 6
England v Canada, KO 4:06am BST