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Second in France but history made for Aussie Sevens

30 May 2016

RUGBY SEVENS: The Qantas Australian Women's Sevens team has finished runners-up in Clermont-Ferrand overnight but have emerged from France with the 2015-16 Women's Sevens World Series title.

Tim Walsh's side beat Spain (35-0) in the Cup Quarter-Final before seeing off trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand (14-5) in the Semi-Final. Canada were too good in the tournament decider as they emerged deserved winners (29-19) to become just the second side to beat Australia this campaign.

Qantas Australian Women's Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "To come out on top in the World Series is an extraordinary effort and we have so much to be proud of this season. Defence wins championships and up to that last game we had been fantastic all year.

"It's a bit bittersweet I guess as we just didn't perform in that Cup Final and Canada ran out worthy winners. If you don't make tackles you don't win games and it certainly wasn't our greatest defensive effort. It wasn't a case of us not being up for it - every time we pull on the jersey we are up for it - but it wasn't our game this time around. We'll learn from it."

Walsh added: "This group of players are continually challenging themselves and we'll be working hard to improve when we get back to training at Narrabeen next week. We have a big few months ahead and it's a challenge that is exciting for everyone."

Safe in the knowledge that a win in the Cup Quarter-Final over Spain would secure the World Series, the Aussies dominated from start to finish. Emilee Cherry settled any nerves with a try on four minutes before Evania Pelite doubled the advantage two minutes later to give her side a 14-point advantage at the break.

Further tries from Chloe Dalton, a solo effort from Cherry and a classic team try that saw Charlotte Caslick score put the seal on a commanding performance.

The Cup Semi-Final against New Zealand was a different game entirely, with a huge emphasis placed on the breakdown. In a first half with few opportunities it was co-captain Shannon Parry who broke the deadlock when she spotted a gap in the opposition defence to race clear and score under the posts.

Unsurprisingly, the three-time World Champion New Zealand outfit came back in the second period but once again Parry was on hand to not only make a try-saving tackle, but generate a crucial turnover. From there, she found Evania Pelite who in turn found Chloe Dalton who broke the tackle of NZ captain Sarah Goss. Dalton offloaded to Emilee Cherry who had the job of crossing the whitewash with another long-range effort.

New Zealand speedster Portia Woodman scored a trademark effort in the last 90 seconds to give her side hope but it proved no more than a consolation as the Australians reached their fourth final in five attempts this season.

A 19-point half-time deficit proved too much for Australia to overcome as Canada won the Clermont Sevens Cup Final at the Stade Gabriel Montpied. Magali Harvey and Kelly Russell scored early on but Chloe Dalton replied for the Australians after a fine solo effort. However, Ghislaine Landry and Brittany Benn both dotted down to give Canada a healthy advantage to take to the half-time break.

Inevitably, Australia hit back in the second period through firstly Ellia Green and then Emilee Cherry as the green and gold turned the screw but the game was put out of reach when Landry scored a penalty from right under the posts in the final 90 seconds of a compelling contest.

Australia's runners-up placing in France sees the side elevated to the number one seeding for the Rio 2016 Olympics in August, ahead of previous incumbents New Zealand.

The 12-woman squad that will travel to Brazil to Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics will be announced by Head Coach Tim Walsh on Thursday 14 July in Sydney.

Qantas Australian Women's Sevens results in Clermont-Ferrand, France, 28-30 May:
Australia 34-0 Fiji, Pool C
Australia 40-5 Ireland, Pool C
Australia 19-12 France, Pool C
Australia 35-0 Spain, Cup Quarter-Final
Australia 14-5 New Zealand, Cup Semi-Final
Australia 19-29 Canada, Cup Final

Final 2015-16 Women's Sevens World Series Standings (top six): 1. Australia (94 World Series points), 2. New Zealand (80 points), 3. Canada (74 points), 4. England (74 points), 5. France (60 points), 6. USA (46 points)

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