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Australia seal dramatic Dubai win

Australia have won the first round of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series after a stunning comeback against New Zealand in the final.

Australia trailed 27-7 early in the second half, but never gave up, and three stunning tries from youngster Rachel Crothers, helped them get back in it, with the final try an incredible individual effort to wrap up a 35-27 win. 

New Zealand will rue the decision to take off stars such as Kayla McAlister and Sarah Goss early in the second half, after they had taken that 20 point lead, with their departure kick-starting the Australian fight back.

New Zealand had been the form team all weekend, being led brilliantly by Huriana Manuel with the likes of McAlister and Honey Hireme in excellent try scoring form over the two days. In the Quarters on day two they were miles too strong for Brazil before giving, by their own high standards, a patchy performance to beat Canada 19-5 to make it through to the final against near rivals Australia.

Australia, who were also unbeaten on day one, also had an excellent lead up to the final.  They first dispatched England 19-5 with youngsters Rachel Crothers and Charlotte Caslick on the score sheet. In the semis against Russia, they were totally dominant with Sharni Williams leading by example and Emilee Cherry proving the finishing touches.

It set up a fantastic finale which did not disappoint in the drama stakes. Tries from Hireme and McAlister in the first half helped New Zealand to a comfortable 22-7 lead, with Sarah Goss pulling the strings around the park and when McAlister made it 27-7, Horan took the opportunity to bring on his bench.  That was all the encouragement Australia needed as Ellia Green pounced out wide, before Emilee Cherry then raced over. The stage was set for Crothers, the new star of the side, to race away for a fantastic score to seal the win.

In the Plate, England finished their weekend off with a win and fifth place, beating Spain in the final after coming from 10-0 behind to beat USA 12-10 in the Semis. Spain had earned a narrow victory over Brazil in their semis but England edged out the final 17-10, with Megan Ellery scoring twice. It was a good rallying finish from England, who would have been disappointed with their opening day results, and with a host of front line Sevens players missing, fifth was a decent return.

Fiji took the Bowl title after beating France narrowly. France had a much improved second day, after a winless pool stage, while Fiji showed that with a bit more experience, they will be capable of challenging the top sides.  

Ireland ended a disappointing campaign with a 17-0 win over Tunisia to avoid finishing bottom. Alison Miller scored a hat-trick in a weekend where she was her side’s key figure. They will certainly find the going tough later in the series, where they may lose the likes of Miller and Ashleigh Baxter to Ireland’s 15s demands.

In the other placings, Russia took third with a win over Canada.  Russia started well in the competition but when it came to the semi-final, showed their inexperience at this level. Still, with players like Ekaterina Kazakova and Baizat Khamidova, they will continue to be a huge threat this season. Canada coped well all weekend minus established stars such as Jen Kish and Mandy Marchack and without Ghislaine Landry on day two, and a place in the top four was a very good return for John Tait’s side who will be stronger again in the next round of the series.

Brazil too will be pleased with their progress.  It took USA until the last play to knock them from seventh spot and they’ll be delighted to have finished ahead of a core side and finish in the top eight.

See here for all of today's results