Australia have won the first ever women’s sevens Olympic gold medal
Afternoon: Semi-final session
The Olympic afternoon began with the games in the “9th place competition” – or the bowl in other tournaments.
Colombia got their first points on the board with a try from Acevado, and with Medina adding a second lead 10-5 at half time. However, the breeze now in their favour, Kenya ran away with the second half with three tries from Otieno, Okelo and Masinde to take 11th place.
After the Games, Brazil are unlikely to get as many guest spots in the World Series so qualifying as a core team was vital to the future of their game. The conceded an early try to Japan, but then took command. Helped a little by a Japanese yellow card they lead 12-5 at half time, and then ran away with the game in the second period to record a 33-5 win.
As a result neither Africa nor Asia will be represented by right in next year’s World Series – though Japan at least can expect a lot of guest places as World Rugby help the build towards the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
The “5th place competition” – ie. the plate – semi-finals were quite low key. With no series points at stake it was all about pride. France dominated the first half of their game with Spain with three tries, extending that to 24-0 soon into the second-half. Spain pulled two scores back, but France comfortably qualified for the plate final.
Fiji and the USA was rather closer, a first half Tavo try being overtaken in the second half by American scores by Kelter and Stephens – revenge for the surprise loss on day one.
And so to the main event – the first Olympic semi-finals.
Canada began brightly against Australia, but after a tight opening couple of minutes it was Australia who set the scoreboard in motion with Cherry benefiting from a big overlap to score. An error from the restart then put Australia straight back into the front foot. Canadian defence fought hard, but in the end an opportunity came for Tonegato. She was hauled down short – but Cherry was on her shoulder. 12-0 Australia at half-time.
The second half began like the first, with Canada looking strong, but an over-hit kick ahead gave away possession and within a minute Australia were extending their lead with Dalton touching down in the corner.
Australia, now three scores ahead, used the bench and were happy to run down the clock. Charity Williams finally found a gap but with less than 45 second to go there was no time for the third seeds to pull back the score. Australia were in the final.
The second semi-final had a similar start. Great Britain began strongly, but a high-risk kick ahead just failed to be taken by Jo Watmore, the referee’s decision went New Zealand’s way, and moments later Woodman’s pace saw her in for the Ferns’ first score.
That was soon cancelled out by a well taken try by Richardson, set up by some great work from Scarratt, with game Britain a 7-5 lead. But it did not last long, and Tui put the number two seeds back ahead 10-7.
Now came a crucial few seconds of play. First McLean grabbed the shirt of Woodman as she chased a kick ahead resulting in a yellow card. From that penalty Wilson Hardy mistimed her challenge, tackled the New Zealander in the air, and second yellow card was the result.
Down to just five players, Britain did remarkably well to only concede two tries to Woodman either side of the break, but by the time they were back to full strength the score was 20-7 to the Ferns.
Great Britain needed a quick score with three minutes to go – but New Zealand regained possession and patiently held onto the ball before Broughton finally found space to extend the lead to 25-7. Britain battled to the last, but that was the final score.
11th place: Colombia 10-22 Kenya
9th place: Brazil 33-5 Japan [Brazil qualify for 2016/17 World Series]
Spain 12-24 France
Fiji 7-12 United States
Australia 17–5 Canada
New Zealand 25–7 Great Britain
Evening medal sesion
In a great final Australia withheld a great start from New Zealand to turn the match around and end deserved winners.
New Zealand scored the first try after a long period of heroic Australian defence. Only when Goss had pulled in three players to tackle her down was there enough space for McAlister to go in at the corner.
Australia now went on the offensive. A brilliant tackle by Nathan-Wong initially denied Tonegato, but seconds later Australia’s top scorer was in to tie things up.
Then the match-changing moment. A deliberate knock-on by Woodman resulted in a yellow card. It was a mistake that resulted in two tries either side of the break, first from Pelite then Green. The score was now 17-5.
Caslick hammered in the final nail with a brilliant close in penalty – sheer speed finding the way to the line. 24-5.
The Ferns never gave up, but by the time of McAlister’s second try it was all but too late. Australia held out for the final minute, so Woodman’s final score was irrelevant as the buzzer had gone]
Australia were Olympic Champions!
The bronze medal went to Canada who turned around their defeat on day 2 in dramatic style. Great Britain made too many errors, often turning promising positions into periods of desperate defence and eventual Canadian scores. Canada contributed to this by being very physical, knocking Britain off their game.
Paquin opened the scoring seconds after Farella was prevented from scoring by a great last ditch tackle by Richardson. Waterman pulled a score back soon afterwards, but Canada were soon back on the British line – and Landry now saw a gap and took it. 14-5.
A forward pass by Scarratt was followed by a deliberate knock on and a yellow card. Two tries followed and suddenly Canada were 26-5 ahead at halftime.
Joyce pulled a try back, but the clock was now Britain’s enemy. Canada held onto possession for over a minute, lost possession, immediately regained it – and scored again. And that was that.
Elsewhere 7th place went to Spain, with a battling performance fittingly finished off with a near touchline conversion from Patricia Garcia, leaving Fiji in 8th place.
USA took 5th with an impressive second half performance, overturning a 5-0 French lead at the break to dominate from the opening seconds when Alev Kelter saw a gap and tied up the scores. Javalet’s speed was also on show again as they ran in three tries to win comfortably in the end.
7th place: Spain 21-0 Fiji
5th place: France 5-19 United States
Bronze final: Canada 33-10 Great Britain
Gold final: Australia 24-17 New Zealand