Australia completed a unique double in Apia today, winning the first ever women's sevens gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games to go with the first ever women's sevens Youth Olympics gold, won last year.
Teuila Aukusitino of Samoa is tackled by Airini Vuidravuwalu and Jiowana Sauto of Fiji (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The importance of rugby in Samoa was amptly demonstrated at the Commonwealth Youth Games this week when the tournament was timetabled to take place in the main stadium, following the athletics, and in front of an appreciative crowd.
The final was a repeat of the Nanjing Olympic final, with Australia again taking on Canada having gone through the pool unbeaten. Indeed Australia did not concede a point to anyone other than the Canadians in the entire three day competition, winning every other match by 38 points or more. The pool game between the two teams was tight, but when it came to the 20-minute final the extra fitness of the Australian girls was the key as they took gold 38-5.
The ARU reported that "the Australian girls dominated their Canadian opponents from the outset in their gold medal match at Apia Park, starving their opponents of the ball throughout an opening 10 minutes that saw them rack up an almost unassailable 24-point lead. Jayme Fressard added to her try haul by scoring the opening two tries - her 12th and 13th of the tournament - before Raecene McGregor and Demi Hayes extended the lead. Little changed in the second period, though Canada did pull one five-pointer back. Hayes scored once again and Emma Sykes completed the rout on the siren as Australia were rewarded for a thoroughly professional and clinical display.
"Girls Coach Dale Roberson said: "I'm very proud of the girls and I'm very happy that we achieved what we set out to do. We've been asking for a full-game effort, and I think we delivered that on the last game in the final which was pleasing from a coaching perspective. One of our goals was to maintain possession of the ball, make them work hard and hopefully tire them out."
"Laura Waldie said: "Being named flag bearer for the team, named captain, and then winning a gold medal - it just hasn't sunk in yet. I'll definitely remember this week for the rest of my life. It's been a fantastic event and brilliant to be with the other athletes and see how they prepare."
Canada were a strong team, but were pushed hard by both Fiji and the surprise team, Cook Islands, who opened day two with an impressive 15-11 win over the young Fijians before going onto smash past Samoa and Tonga to reach the bronze medal play-off. But when it came to the medal game, the Fijians came good when it mattered to narrowly beat the Cook Islanders 22-17.
Hosts Samoa has a tough time, losing all of their pool games on day two after having started well with a 12-0 win over Tonga on the opening day of competition. However, Tonga got their revenge with a 10-5 win in the 5th place play-off, leaving the hosts in last place.
With the next Commonwealth Youth Games due to take place as early as 2017 (the normaly four-year cycle is being changed so that the games are a year before the adult event, rather than a year afterwards) it is possible that the younger players may have another chance at glory (in either Canada or Scotland - to be announced shortly), while many of the older ones can be expected to be on the Gold Coast in Australia in 2018 for the first adult Commonwealth Games women's sevens.
16:00 Canada 38-0 Tonga
16:22 Fiji 38-0 Samoa
16:44 Australia 38-0 Cook Islands
18:34 Samoa 12-0 Tonga
18:56 Canada 24-12 Cook Islands
19:16 Australia 36-0 Fiji
10th September 2015
11.00 Fiji 11-15 Cook Islands
11.22 Canada 45-0 Samoa
11.44 Australia 38-0 Tonga
13.58 Fiji 21-15 Tonga
14.20 Samoa 0-29 Cook Islands
14:42 Australia 12-10 Canada
16:46 Tonga 5-17 Cook Islands
17.08 Canada 17-10 Fiji
17.30 Australia 45-0 Samoa
11th September 2015
10:00 5th/6th place
11:06 Bronze medal final
11.50 Gold medal final