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Atlanta 7s: Day One Wrap

Russia, Canada and New Zealand went unbeaten on day one of the Atlanta 7s while Japan were the surprise package, beating Spain to go through to the Quarters. 

In Pool A, Canada emerged top of the group, beating neighbours USA, China and round one winners Australia to progress to the quarter finals on Sunday where they'll have a re-match against their rivals, USA. 

Twelve months ago the Canadian "Red Machine" seemed to be stuttering, but now its firing on all cylinders. Their win over USA showed how far they have come, as did their lung-bursting win over Australia (with some fortunate decisions going their way). Australia were impressive without quite catching fire, but it is the United States who will be most concerned. Despite a raft of world-class players, at their home tournament there was a real danger that they might not make the quarter-finals. China - with seven new players - still do not have a settled side, and that showed both in their results and, at times, lack of experience, especially at the breakdown. 

Pool B was a "group of death" that saw England and New Zealand beat both Ireland and Netherlands, before facing off in the last pool match of the night, a classic that saw the Black Ferns edge out the English, 14-5.

By and large the pool went to form, but of all the teams perhaps England will be most pleased with the results. New Zealand expected to win the pool - and did - but, with several leading players on Six Nations duty, England pushed them much harder than pre-tournament pundits might have suggested. Natasha Brennan, in her first WSWS tournament, was a real star while Nollie Waterman was in magnificent form on her return from injury.

Meanwhile the New Zealand teenage production line continues to produce some amazingly talent. 17 year-old Gayle Broughton is the latest. At an age that would prevent her even training with the England team, if she was English, never mind playing for them it was she who stepped into Kayla McAlister's shoes to score a McAlister-style winning try against England and sparked interesting discussion about differing northern and southern hemisphere policies on bringing on talented young players.

The other side of the coin was the disappointment faced by the Dutch. After two encouaging defensive performances against England and New Zealand they faced Ireland needing to win by 22 points to make the quarter-finals. They should have been able to achieve that, even without Kelly van Harskamp who went off with a nasty looking ankle injury early on. However, van Harskamp's injury seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Dutch who almost seemed to go into a state of shock from which they did not emerge until midway through the second half. By that time the Irish (who are learning so much from their WSWS experience) had scored twice, and not only was the possibility of a quarter-final lost, but also the game.

New Zealand now play Japan in the last-eight, while England face a tough battle against Australia.

Russia were the standout team in Pool C, beating Japan, Brazil and Spain to progress to the quarter-finals where they'll play Spain in another re-match from Day one but Japan did superbly to beat Brazil and Spain to go through to face New Zealand in the quarters. 

Spain's shock defeat by Japan - the first win by an Asian team against major European opposition, and the first appearence of an Asian team in a quarter-final - shows the dangers faced by squad rotation, especially in teams with small player bases. Against what was perceived to be the weakest team in the pool, and after a good win over Brazil in round one, Spain rested leading players such as Barbra Pla and Patricia Garcia - and looked a very different side. Despite dominating play, a spark was missing, opportunities not take, and by the time Garcia was brought into action Japan had the game won. In some ways the Spanish are like the Dutch - although their team is full of world class players they miss the talismanic properties of Garcia. Its almost a psychological issue, rather than a playing one.

We have heard much about the rise of Japan in Asia, from third or fourth on the continent to its undoubted leading team, but this was the first time they had shown what they can do on an international stage. Once they scored their first try against Spain their confidence and self-belief grew visibly. Nakamura in particular was in wonderful form as they went on to beat Brazil as well to make the quarter-finals.

All the IRB Women's Sevens World Series action from Kennesaw State University gets underway on Sunday morning at noon (GMT -5) live on wsws.irb.com

Group A

 WDLFA
Canada3001007
Australia2015512
United States1024148
China0030119


•    Australia 31-0 China
•    Canada 31-0 United States
•    Australia 17-0 United States
•    Canada 47-0 China
•    United States 41-0 China
•    Australia 7-12 Canada

Group B

 WDLFA
New Zealand3007112
England2014636
Ireland1021968
Netherlands0032252


•    New Zealand 21-0 Netherlands
•    England 22-0 Ireland
•    New Zealand 36-7 Ireland
•    England 19-12 Netherlands
•    Ireland 12-10 Netherlands
•    New Zealand 14-5 England

Group C
 

 WDLFA
Russia30010019
Japan2013343
Spain1024036
Brazil0031782

•    Russia 29-0 Japan
•    Spain 19-5 Brazil
•    Russia 42-5 Brazil
•    Spain 7-12 Japan
•    Brazil 7-21 Japan
•    Russia 19-14 Spain

Quarter-finals:

  • Canada v USA
  • Australia v England
  • New Zealand v Japan
  • Russia v Spain

Bowl semi-finals

  • Ireland v China
  • Netherlands v Brazil