Maddison Levi proved to be the star of the opening day for world champions Australia at the Dubai Sevens, booting seven tries in three matches as they stormed into the women’s quarter-finals.
But Australia’s men, fresh from success at the Hong Kong Sevens, did not have it all their own way as they reached the round of 16 of their tournament on Friday on points difference, despite defeat by the last match against South Africa.
Charlotte Caslick led the women’s team in their first tournament of the season since receiving the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award, helping to orchestrate their three comfortable group wins, which have 16 essays.
Seven of them came from the powerful 20-year-old Levi, who had also been shortlisted for the world prize after her hat-trick helped send New Zealand down in the World Cup final.
In Dubai, the AFLW convert opened with a try in the opening 36-7 win over China, a pair in the 33-0 win over Canada and then four, including a first-half hat-trick , in a solo tour de force. during the 29-12 win over the USA.
Madison Ashby also scored a try in each of the three matches, while Faith Nathan, who on the eve of the event had become the fourth key player in quick succession to commit her future to the Australian program, also celebrate with a try against China.
In their first tournament of the new season following their 2022 ‘triple crown’ of World Cup, World Series and Commonwealth Games triumphs throughout the season, the Aussies proved they will once again stop- a date will be set for the quarter-finals on Saturday. with Fiji.
Meanwhile, the Australian men, who got their own World Series defense off to a good start with the country’s first win at the Hong Kong Sevens event for 34 years, almost negotiated a tough challenge to overcome a ‘group of death’ with Kenya. , GB and the ‘Blitzboks’ of South Africa.
They were in control after they could only draw 19-19 with Kenya in their opener, Maurice Longbottom coming in with a late equalizing try.
They then came out on top in a 28-19 win over the British side thanks to another bit of magic from Longbottom and further tries from Kye Oates, standout Henry Hutchison and Nathan Lawson.
In the key game of the final against the ‘Blitzboks’, the Aussies suffered a terrible start as Dietrich Roache saw yellow for a neck pass and was followed by Lawson who was penalized for a high kick.
The South Africans took advantage with tries from Siviwe Soyizwapi and JC Pretorius, but the restored Lawson and Longbottom, who struck for their third game in a row, responded with tries that left the game in the balance until Dalvon Blood advance with the winner in the game. seconds dying
The 19-12 defeat was not enough to eliminate Australia, who qualified for the quarter-finals with the United States on Saturday by having a higher group points difference than Great Britain, but only by two points.
– Ian Chadband