A huge sigh of relief could be felt around the Robina Stadium when Charlotte Caslick broke clear to score the match-winning try for crowd favourites Australia and keep their hopes alive of completing a unique treble of the winning the first Rugby World Cup Sevens, Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games titles.
The 17-10 victory secured top spot in Pool B for Olympic champions Australia with an unbeaten record and set up a semi-final with Canada, who had lost the Pool A decider to New Zealand 24-7 in the first session of the day.
Australia's win also confirmed England's place in the last four and world champions New Zealand stand between them and a guaranteed medal in the first Commonwealth Games women's rugby sevens competition.
Kenya and South Africa had shared the spoils in the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series qualifier in Hong Kong last weekend and this was another close battle for African pride. The Kenyan Lionesses started the brighter with Janet Okelo hauled down just short before bouncing back to her feet and releasing the ball to allow her to run round under the posts for the opener.
Another turn of pace from Celestine Masinde doubled Kenya's lead to 14-0 at the break, before South Africa came roaring back with tries from Mathrin Simmers and Zenay Jordaan. Both conversions were crucially missed and Kenya wrapped up victory when captain Philadelphia juggled the ball and regathered to dot down late on to secure third place in the pool.
Then it was the turn of New Zealand and Canada, the second and third ranked teams in this year's HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series, to duel for top spot in Pool A and a semi-final with the Pool B runner-up on Sunday. Portia Woodman opened the scoring in typical fashion, the World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year 2017 racing down the touchline to score her sixth try of the Games but the Black Ferns Sevens were then reduced to five players with first captain Sarah Goss yellow-carded and then Michaela Blyde for a high tackle on Julia Greenshields as she scored the try.
Captain Ghislaine Landry curled the conversion through the uprights from the sidelines to edge Canada 7-5 ahead at half-time. However, the Olympic bronze medallists couldn't make their advantage count and instead World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year 2017 Blyde returned from the sin-bin to score two tries to pull New Zealand 10 points clear with time running out. Stacey Waaka then wrapped up the 24-7 win with a fourth try for the world champions to secure top spot in the pool.
England's greater experience as a series core team was evident with Natasha Hunt and Emily Scarratt both scoring tries after Wales were caught napping after conceding penalties, the latter coasting past two defenders slowly walking back to their own line. With four tries on the board by half-time, England continued to pile the pressure on their neighbours in the second half with Emily Scott and a brace from Amy Wilson-Hardy but then faced a nervous wait to see if it would be enough for a semi-final spot.
Australia had lost co-captain Sharni Williams to injury in their win over England, but roared on by the near capacity crowd the hosts opened the scoring when the quick feet of Emma Tonegato allowed her to dart through the Fiji defence in the first minute. The match was quickly tied up at 5-5, though, after Miriama Naiobasali went 80 metres and just had enough left to stretch out for the line under the tackle of Emma Sykes.
The second half was barely 30 seconds old when Charlotte Caslick raced away to restore Australia's lead once more but it again didn't last long with Naoibasali scoring her second to tie the scores at 10-10. With the pressure on and the tension evident around Robina Stadium, Fiji continued to threaten but then lost Pricilla Siata to the sin-bin after she prevented Australia taking a quick penalty near their own line.
As she sat in the sin-bin Australia cleared their lines and worked the ball wide to Green and, while the Fijian-born flyer failed to round the defence as she had against England on day one, the crowd were soon raising the roof after Caslick broke free and raced away to score the winning try.
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