Reigning HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series champions, New Zealand were the standout side on day one of the HSBC USA Women’s Sevens in Glendale, Colorado.
Running in 17 tries, including a 36-0 victory over England, the Black Ferns Sevens set up a Cup quarter-final against Ireland on day two.
Australia topped Pool C but only by virtue of a missed conversion that would have won Canada a thrilling encounter. The two sides drew 26-26 thanks to Charity Williams’ try more than a minute past the final hooter, but the conversion was wayward as the teams ended day one unbeaten.
Canada’s reward is a clash with hosts USA while Australia will face Russia.
France claimed their third victory of the day, battling back from behind against USA. A 24-14 win sealed a good day for Les Bleues, who will take on Spain in the quarter-finals.
England, Japan, Brazil and Fiji will compete for ninth place on day two which kicks off at 10:11 local time at Infinity Park.
Russia took two wins at Infinity Park to finish second in Pool A. They surprised England in their opening game, sharper and more clinical than their European counterparts, scoring six tries with Elena Zdrokova and Daria Shestakova running in two each. Two second half tries did little to stop New Zealand, Kelly Brazier’s hat-trick seeing off Russia, but they bounced back by putting five tries past Japan without response.
Invitational side Japan were impressive despite suffering defeat in all three matches. They had gone behind early to the Black Ferns Sevens but pegged them back through Fumiko Otake’s try, only to ship six more scores. England, who had been unconvincing in defeat to Russia earlier in the day, found themselves in a real contest against Japan. Megan Jones, Holly Aitchison and Emma Uren gave them a 14-0 and 21-7 lead, but Yume Hirano’s double provided a nervy finish, although England held on for a 21-14 victory. Russia romped to a 29-0 win over the invitational team.
France had cruised past Ireland, three first half tries giving them the momentum which they retained, and they made similarly light work of Brazil, putting six tries past the South American side. Brazil did earn their first try of the day — on their return as a core team for the first time since 2017 — through Thalia Costa.
Hosts USA put five tries past the newbies, their opening score the highlight. Rugbytown USA was treated to a show in their game against Ireland, Naya Tapper and Kristie Kirshe both excellent in scoring two tries apiece in a dominant 45-7 win.
Ireland go into the ninth place semi-finals after beating Brazil in their final game, although Raquel Kochhann’s try to level things up before half-time forced Ireland to dig deep. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Emily Lane and Anna Doyle secured a 28-7 victory.
Spain finished third in the pool after beating Fiji 29-21. It was a fast start by the Spanish, putting three early tries on the board. Ana Maria Naimasi scored two for Fiji but five scorers for Spain, including Marina Bravo and Maria Garcia’s second half tries, ensured victory.
Spain had earlier been downed by Australia thanks to Emma Tonegato’s hat-trick, before giving Canada a scare in their second game. They took the lead through Patricia Garcia, were pegged back by Bianca Farella’s double and Ghislaine Landry, and although Maria Garcia’s late try made for an exciting conclusion, Canada survived.
Fiji shipped five tries against Canada, Naimasi their only scorer, before Charlotte Caslick’s hat-trick helped Australia see them off.
Day two of the action gets underway at Infinity Park at 10:11 local time on Sunday 6 October.