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Women’s Sevens World Series, Dubai : Day 1

A day of surprises, excitement, and unexpected weather conditions combined to produce a dramatic opening day of the first round of the Women’s Sevens World Series in Dubai today.

The day opened with a rousing game from Pool C the Group of Death as it had been widely dubbed from the announcement of the draw with Australia taking on the Netherlands. The result was the World Champions gaining revenge for their defeat at the IRB Challenge in London last summer by beating Netherlands 24-12, coming back from being 12-7 down at the break, but the USA took a early lead in pool thanks to a 27-12 win over France.

However, by now all eyes were by now on the main stadium were a sensation was taking place. England winners of two IRB Challenges last season were going down to defeat to South Africa, by 20-5. Mandisa Williams, SA women's captain, could hardly contain her joy afterwards "It means a lot and it is in the first women's tournament. It is great for us, and awesome, we can't describe it further. It is the first time our game is televised so we put in our best because people back home are watching us and we are so proud to get the win today."

Barely had the crowd taken its breath before another shock result Russia beating Canada 15-12. Clearly no reputations were going to be safe.

Round two came close to being just as remarkable. The weather stole the headlines to begin with a downpour delivering what seemed like most of Dubais annual rainfall in one go. On the field Spain sneaked through to beat South Africa 5-0, the only score coming with less than three minutes left, and then Russia came back from 12-0 down to New Zealand to tie the game, 12-12, at the death. And in the Group of Death, Netherlands clawed their way back from the brink to beat USA 12-7. Tessa Veldhuis summed up Dutch delight "It's great. It was a hard game, very physical, they played very well but we are very happy we beat them. One second I just look around and think it is wonderful to play in front of so many people, but then I have to focus on the game."

And so to the final round of games, with the certainty that at least one big name would be missing out on the quarter-finals. Russia began proceedings by completing an unbeaten first day, finishing top of Pool B. The Dutch did just enough to beat France 14-12, Australia beat USA to complete the only 100 percent record for the day, and South Africa beat Brazil to guarantee their quarter-final spot.

Next up was England, who now had to beat Spain to stay in the tournament. They did just with two tries from Ruth Laybourn, England winning 17-7.

And finally, the game everyone had been waiting for Canada vs New Zealand, which was just as good as everyone suspected it would be. Portia Woodman opened the scoring for the Ferns, but Canada fought back to lead 12-7 with just 90 seconds remaining. New Zealand then tied it up from the final play before controversially the referee disallowed the conversion because he said kicker Tyla Nathan-Wong had taken too long, so a 12-12 draw, which was just enough for Canada to make the quarters - ahead of continental rivals USA.

Results:

Australia24 - 12Netherlands
USA27 - 7France
England5 - 20South Africa
Spain19 - 0Brazil
Canada12 - 15Russia
New Zealand24 - 0China
England22 - 0Brazil
Australia29 - 0France
USA7 - 12Netherlands
Spain5 - 0South Africa
Canada32 - 0China
New Zealand12 - 12Russia
Russia27 - 0China
Netherlands14 - 12France
South Africa19 - 5Brazil
Australia15 - 7USA
England17 - 7Spain
Canada12 - 12New Zealand

Schedule Day 2:

Quarter finals:
Australia0 - 0Canada
New Zealand0 - 0England
South Africa0 - 0Netherlands
Russia0 - 0Spain

Bowl semi-finals:
France0 - 0Brazil
USA0 - 0China

Leading scorers: