New Zealand and Australia lead rush for women's gold in Hong Kong
Australia will face Great Britain in the first women's semi-final of the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, while New Zealand face Fiji.
Australia beat Ireland to make it four wins from four, while Great Britain got the better of France in a close encounter of the tense kind to close the gap to Ireland in the race to Paris 2024.
Meanwhile, another Olympic hopeful, Fiji, will play New Zealand – who have only conceded 12 points this tournament – in the other semi-final at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
Quarter-finals: Caslick at the double as Australia sweep into last four
Ireland’s impressive sevens’ knockout streak – they have won six of their last eight quarter-finals, including three of four this season – hit a green-and-gold wall in Hong Kong.
Charlotte Caslick scored twice as Australia, who have now won 25 matches in a row against Ireland, cruised into Sunday’s semi-finals with a 24-5 victory, an improvement on their win over the same team on day one. Ireland’s consolation score came after the second-half hooter had sounded.
After a big old battle (and with the scores at 0-0) @RhonaLloyd96 is on hand to book @GBRugbySevens' place in their first semi-final this year with a last-minute score 😳— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) April 1, 2023
And look at what it means! @DHLRugby | #ImpactMoment | #HK7s | #HSBC7s pic.twitter.com/xKkatYGo7k
Rhona Lloyd scored the only try of the game on the final play of a frenetic lung-buster of a quarter-final to send Great Britain into the last four, at the expense of previously unbeaten France.
Like Great Britain, Fiji also left it late to stake their claim for a semi-final berth, twice coming from behind against the USA before winning the match on the final play courtesy of a touchdown from Reapi Ulunisau to make it 19-14 at the final whistle.
After those two tight games, the Black Ferns Sevens cruised into the last four with a straightforward 45-12 win over a brave Canada – their second of the day – to round off the second day's action, and set-up a semi-final against Fiji on Sunday. Jorja Miller and Risi Pouri-Lane both scored twice as New Zealand ran in seven tries.
Pool A: Black Ferns Sevens enjoy pool party in Hong Kong
Earlier, Portia Woodman-Wickliffe had added tries 219 and 220 of her sevens career in the Black Ferns Sevens' 46-0 victory in their first match of the day against Canada.
Invitational host side Hong Kong China made Great Britain work hard to break the deadlock in their final Pool A match – but once Emma Uren broke the deadlock late in the first half, it was one-way traffic. Jasmine Joyce ran in two second-half tries, as Great Britain made certain of their place in the final eight with a 35-0 win.
Pool B: Australia lead the way
Beibhinn Parsons and Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe both scored twice as Ireland comfortably beat hardworking Brazil 34-0 to record their only win of the pool phase. It was enough to see them through to the last eight.
Australia followed Ireland’s lead with an organised 35-7 five-try win over fellow knockout-phase qualifiers Fiji as they celebrated qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games by finishing the pool phase unbeaten.
Pool C: France's Okemba stars, Spain finish ninth
Japan’s Mei Ohtani had the honour of scoring the first try of day two, early in their 14-10 win over Spain. The Spanish women later scored four tries to beat Hong Kong China 24-5 in the ninth-place semi-final. Then, after Japan had beaten Brazil 29-0 to secure a shot at ninth place against Spain, Brazil got the better of plucky Hong Kong China, winning 21-10 to claim 11th place.
But two tries for Japan’s Wakaba Hara – her fifth and sixth in the tournament – and another for Hana Nagata, were not enough for a ninth-placed finish as her side lost 26-17 against Spain.
Those play-off matches bookended the early action in Hong Kong. And there were plenty of fireworks in between.
France’s Seraphine Okemba turned on the afterburners to break the deadlock against USA – a side looking to medal for a sixth time in this HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. She repeated the trick a minute later, as Les Bleues’ ramped up the flair to finish top of Pool C. Ian Jason scored the decisive try as France held off a determined USA comeback to win 15-12 to qualify top of their pool.
But France’s medal hopes would end in the first match of the knockout phase against Great Britain. They will face Ireland in the fifth-place semi-final on Sunday morning.