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Big names storm to quarters in China 7s

All of the top seeds successfully qualifed for the quarter finals after the first day of the Women's Sevens World Series tournament in Guangzhou, China - despite continual heavy rain, thunder and lightning (which lead to  40-minute delay at one point) throughout almost the entire day.

However - although the running track around the pitch looked more like a river - a superbly prepared playing surface ensured that conditions underfoot remained good, allowing for some exciting sevens rugby to be played.

In Pool A New Zealand looked in better form than ever, comfortably topping the pool keeping a clear sheet until the last minute of their final game when the Dutch finally broke through.

Netherlands took the runners-up spot, but looked the least comfortable of all the top seeds in the conditions. Indeed they came within seconds of possible elimination, going into the final minute against Brazil 12-0 behind. Two van Harskamp tries resulted in a salvaged draw, and a route to the last eight - but only as 6th seed.

Brazil, on the other hand, were delighted, celebrating the draw as if it were a win, bringing as it does their first ever place in the quarter finals of an IRB event.

As was feared, Tunisia were outclassed in their first major tournament outside Africa since qualifying for the World Cup.

In Pool B, Canada continued the superb form they had shown last weekend in Hong Kong to sweep to the top of what looked, on paper, the day's toughest pool. Ireland and Japan had no answer to them, and even Australia - in a repeat of the Hong Kong final - were never seriously in the hunt.

Australia started well against Japan, and also began well against Ireland - but Irish are learning all the time and turned the game on its head in the second period, camping out on the Australian line at the end and getting over the line for an equalising score in the final seconds only for the ball to be held up.

As a result Ireland went into their final game knowing they had to win by more than 10 points against Japan to Alison Miller scored three tries against Japan on day one of the China Sevens in Guangzhou, Chinamake the quarter-finals - and raced into a 12-0 lead. The Japanese had no answer to a team that is clearly getting better with every game, Alison Miller (right) scoring a hat-trick as the team transferred their Six Nations form and confidence to Sevens.

For Japan it was a disappointing day, looking more off the pace than in previous tournaments.

England took Pool C with a minimum of fuss. Ahead in their first game within seconds, they did not look back and rarely seemed troubled - though Fiji took Emily Scarratt of England makes a break v USA on day one at the China Sevens in Guangzhou, Chinaan early lead in their fixture before surcoming 24-10. Though not as spectacular as Canada or New Zealand, there always seemed a suspicon that an extra gear existed that could be called on if need be.

The USA took runners-up spot, comfortably seeing off Fiji and then China, though having no real answer to England.

China took third, but not with a performance good enough to make the top eight, while Fiji displayed moments of sheer brilliance in conditions totally unsuitable to their style of play. Given more experience - and the sun on their backs - they could become a potent force.

Tomorrow New Zealand will face Ireland in the opening quarter final, kicking off at 10am local time (2am GMT, 3am CET). Australia will follow against the USA, before England play the Netherlands, and Brazil take on Canada.

In the Bowl semi-finals China will play Tunisia, while Fiji will face Japan.


Pool A
 New Zealand 29-0  Brazil
 Netherlands 47-0  Tunisia
 New Zealand 53-0  Tunisia
 Netherlands 12-12  Brazil
 New Zealand 20-5  Netherlands
 Brazil 24-0  Tunisia
Pool B
 Australia 26-5  Japan
 Canada 33-5  Ireland
 Australia 12-7  Ireland
 Canada 52-5  Japan
 Australia 10-20  Canada
 Japan 0-33  Ireland

Pool C 
 England 24-5  China
 USA 15-0  Fiji
 England 24-10  Fiji
 USA 21-12  China
 England 19-0  USA
 China 15-10  Fiji