The USA Women’s Rugby Sevens Olympic Team won Pool C play with a 14-12 win against defending Gold Medalist Australia. The USA will meet Pool A 2nd place, likely Great Britain, in the medal quarterfinals, while Australia faces Fiji.
The final Pool A match between New Zealand and Russia OC was delayed due to lightning, postponing the matches start for a minimum of an hour. That match impacts the 7th and 8th seeds in the quarterfinals, as well as in the 9th place semi-finals. If New Zealand defeats Russia by 34 points, then Canada is the 8th seed. If Russia were to win or lose by less than 22 points, they would be the 7th seed, and a loss by 23-33 points would have China the 7th seed instead of the 8th.
The USA began Pool C play with a 28-14 win against China and followed with a 17-7 victory against Japan. This assured them of advancing into the medal quarterfinals. Australia, the defending Olympic gold champion, Australia, opened with a 48-0 win over Japan and followed with a 26-10 win over China.
The first half saw the USA and Australia trading attacks, but the USA spent most of their time inside their own 22-meters.
Australia co-captain Sharni Williams scored under the posts and then converted for a 7-0 lead at the break.
Australia’s momentum continued early in the second half with Demi Hayes scoring a long try to push the lead to 12-0.
The USA answered back with breaks by Nia Toliver, and Alev Kelter before Cheta Emba finished with a try under the posts, and conversion by Nicole Heavirland, 12-7.
The USA capitalized on an Australian player losing the ball on contact with Kirshe executing a pop pass to Abby Guitaitis for a try with Heavirland adding the go-ahead conversion, 14-12.
The USA had a sustained attack deep inside Australian territory and then Heavirland kicked the ball into touch for the win.
Team USA won its pool and will face Pool A 2nd place, likely Great Britain, in the Medal quarterfinals, while Australia faces Fiji.
USA Rugby Comments
Co-Captain Kristen Thomas
“The fact that it was a battle shows a lot. It’s really a testament to all my teammates and all of us out there. We went down two tries and we didn’t give up, we kept fighting and we got the results.
“We trained remotely for a while. Then once we came back to training, we trained in small groups. We still wear our masks in the gym at all times. We just had a lot of different restrictions. A lot of our tournaments in the buildup to this were canceled. This is the first tournament that we’ve had with 12 teams. We’ve played in a few invitationals with three to four teams. But it’s really exciting to finally be back playing rugby on the world stage.”
“It took everything we had. We’re just thankful we got it done together. There’s no limit when we do it together — one to 13 and everyone back home as well. That’s what it took today. And I think we tapped into it and took it step-by-step. Good or bad. Got the job done.”
Squads + Pool Recap vs China & Japan
Australia: Shannon Parry (co-capt.), Sharni Williams (co-capt.), Faith Nathan, Dominique Du Toit, Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite, Charlotte Caslick, Madison Ashby, Tia Hinds, Sariah Paki, Demi Hayes, Maddison Levi
USA: 1 Cheta Emba 2 Ilona Maher 3 Abby Gustaitis (co-captain) 4 Nicole Heavirland 5 Alev Kelter 6 Lauren Doyle 7 Naya Tapper 8 Jordan Matyas 9 Ariana Ramsey 10 Kayla Canett-Oca 11 Kristen Thomas (co-captain) 12 Kristi Kirshe 13 Nia Toliver (13th player), Kasey McCravey (traveling reserve), Nana Fa’avesi (traveling reserve)