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Australia achieve perfection in Sydney

Australia beat New Zealand 31-0 in the Cup final to win the Sydney Sevens title without conceding a point over the three-day tournament.

Australia scored 213 points to win the second round of the World Series, and conceded none. It’s a sort of utter dominance of a tournament that we we have only ever seen before with Brazil in the South American Championship, which has looked on it as evidence of their being on a totally different level to all of their opponents.

Now Australia, at the highest level of sevens, against the best teams in the world, with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup just around the corner have achieved this remarkable feat you have to ask if they are now on a different level as well.

What is more you have to go back to the semi-finals in Dubai to find the last time they conceded a score. Seven consecutive games of perfect defence at the highest possible level. Tim Walsh is setting his successor as coach an almost impossible target to match.

Despite the win in Dubai, Australia had not beaten New Zealand since their Olympic triumph but they scored first and kept their foot on the gas for the duration of the Cup final.

Co-captain Shannon Parry struck first. Emilee Cherry was held up inches short by Portia Woodman and Ruby Tui but Australia shifted it wide and Parry was ready and waiting to score.

New Zealand didn’t have the territory that they would have liked for the rest of the half and Australia the final say of the first seven minutes through Caslick who flew in on the short side and gave them a 10-0 lead.

The second half started in exactly the same fashion as the first with Australia dominating the possession and the scoring.

The combination of Cherry and, a fresh off the bench Ellia Green, added their third before Evania Pelite and Emma Sykes sealed the deal.

In the final minutes New Zealand tried to find a way through however the hosts’ defensive line held firm and they secured Gold on home soil. 

After the full time whistle the World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year 2016, Caslick, was naturally delighted with the winner's performance over the course of the three days.

“It was a fantastic way to finish the tournament here in Sydney in front of our home crowd especially as New Zealand are so tough to beat," she said. "Our coach Tim Walsh wanted a better defensive effort in this tournament as it was not up to par last year, so we have worked really hard on it and we finished without conceding a try which is awesome.”

In the Bronze Final Canada also delivered a clinical showing to take a 40-12 victory over Russia.

John Tait's side immediately went on the front foot as Julia Greenshields scored with her first touch. Brittany Benn set up Canada’s second and third tries whilst Russia gained a try back in-between through Arina Bystrova.

Russia, 12-19 down at the break, struck first in the second half through Maria Perestiak but after that the rest of the game belonged to their opponents.

Canada turned up the heat and added further tries through Jen Kish, Kayla Moleschi and Greenshields scored her second to make sure of the victory. Ghislaine Landry converted five of their six tries as the champions in Sydney last year secured third place in some style.

France secured fifth position with a 19-5 win over Spain, Ireland finished in an impressive seventh with a 19-10 team over a United States team that seemed a shadow of the side that reached the final in Dubai.

Australia are now ten points clear of New Zealand, Canada and Russia in the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 standings. With only five tournament this time they already have one hand on the trophy – it is difficult to see how any of their opponents can close that gap. The next round is in Kitakyushu on 21-22 April.

*Remarkably only two Australian made the official “Dream Team”, announced after the tournament – Charlotte Caslick and Emilee Cherry. Ferns Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde were also chosen, along with Russia’s Baizat Khamidova, Canada’s Brittany Benn – and England’s Jess Breach, a remarkable honour for a player taking part in her first ever World Series Sevens (indeed her first international sevens of any sort).

“Russian captain Alena Mikhaltsova will not feature for her side in their next eight games, suspended for a kick aimed at Evania Pelite in Saturday's women's Cup semi-final. The incident was missed during the games any only spotted on video afterwards. Mikhaltsova has the right to appeal the ban, which would put her out of the next World Series leg in Japan.

*Sydney was also the final tournament that will taken into account to decide the rankings for the top 11 teams in the World Cup. Revised seedings and draw appear below.

Results (Day 3)

7th place final: USA 10-19 Ireland

5th place final: Spain 5-19 France

Bronze final: Russia 12-40 Canada

Cup final: Australia 31-0 New Zealand

World Series standings:

1 Australia 40
 2= Canada 30; New Zealand 30; Russia 30
 5 USA 24
 6 France 22
 7 Spain 18
 8 Ireland 12
 9 England 10
 10 Fiji 5
 11= Japan 3; South Africa 3
 13 Papua New Guinea 1

World Cup seedings:

1. New Zealand ; 2. Australia ; 3. Canada ; 4. Russia ; 5. United States ; 6. France ; 7. Fiji ; 8. England; 9. Ireland ; 10. Spain ; 11. Japan; 12-16 seedings (Brazil, China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, South Africa) will be decided at the World Series qualifier in April.

World Cup draw:

England v Ireland
New Zealand v WS Qual 5th

United States v WS Qual 1st
Russia v WS Qual RU

Fiji v Spain
Australia v WS Qual 4th

France v Japan
Canada v WS Qual 3rd