Langford 7s Day One: ‘Green Machine’ helps Aussies to unbeaten start
The Aussie Women’s Sevens side has got back on track with an impressive unbeaten start to the Langford Sevens in Canada, with Ellia Green playing a starring role with five tries across three pool matches.
Having finished a lowly 6th by their high standards in the previous round in Kitakyushu, Japan, and dropped valuable qualification points for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the process, the penultimate round of the Women’s Sevens World Series is a chance to put things right, and to challenge for a first title of the season.
They started in style with a 33-5 victory over an Ireland side that have caused them problems in the past, before dispatching Brazil 43-7. But it was the last clash of the day that gave an indicator that they really mean business, downing hosts Canada 29-14 to finish the day unbeaten, top Pool A, and set-up a Quarter-Final clash against Russia.
“I’m really impressed with the team’s performances across day one, which showed some of the range of what we can do when we play with the ball in hand,” said head coach John Manenti.
“Ellia Green, Charlotte Caslick and Emma Tonegato had stand out games in the gold jersey, but the whole squad worked really hard and kept their focus across three very different matches. Nothing is won on day one, so it is imperative we keep our focus on the quarter finals tomorrow and get our recovery right.”
Patience was the key to unlocking the door in game one against Ireland, after several attacks were held out before Alicia Quirk went straight up the middle to open the scoring. That paved the way for a couple more five-pointers before the break, Lily Dick with some tidy footwork to find the chalk, and a searing run from Emma Tonegato creating the space for Charlotte Caslick to go over for a third.
The second stanza continued in the same vein as the Aussie girls swamped their opponent’s with hard running and clinical finishing. The pace and power of Ellia Green was to the fore as she blasted a path for Evania Pelite to grab a fourth, before claiming the fifth try herself after Caslick’s fine build-up play.
Staring down the barrel at 33-0 down, Ireland were enjoying plenty of possession without looking like making it pay. But they got a consolation score before the final whistle, the industry of Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe rewarded as Hannah Tyrell went over. Nonetheless, it couldn’t dampen an extremely positive start by Australia.
Things didn’t begin as auspiciously against Brazil in the second contest of the day. The kick-off from Sam Treherne was taken by Bianca Silva, who was somehow presented with a gaping hole by the Aussie defence, and ran 60 metres and under the posts to give the 2016 Olympic hosts a shock lead after just 14 seconds.
Cue Ellia Green. Starting this match after her explosive appearance off the bench against Ireland, the Aussie flyer had her side level within a minute after stepping in off her wing, slipping two tackles, and striding away in her inimitable style for the line.
She was at it again soon after, somehow carving a path down the touchline with very little room to work with to get within range, before Caslick took over to drift infield and free the unmarked Pelite for a second. Caslick then bagged a third after Pelite returned the favour with her own approach play, and the Aussie co-captain was the architect again for Green, who had too much power for the Brazilian defence to cope with for her double.
The Aussies continued to control proceedings in the second half, Pelite putting Sariah Paki away for try number five, before Emma Sykes got in on the act with some neat footwork of her own to make it six. The icing on the cake came courtesy of Yasmin Meakes, who did it all herself when she gained possession in the Brazilian half, arced a run around the defence, and finished with a dummy for good measure to complete the 43-7 rout.
But after racking up 76pts in some style, the Aussies knew that they were in for a far tougher task against Canada in their final match of the day.
The tournament hosts were champions in Kitakyushu, and came into the game on the back of 10 straight World Series victories. And when Julia Greenshields found enough space to squeeze between two Australian defenders and strike an early blow, the challenge got that bit harder.
The Aussies tried to hit back, Caslick chasing her own kick downfield but a penalty conceded close to the line cruelling their efforts. However, the pace of Sam Treherne – looking more and more comfortable in the shorter form of the game with each appearance – soon had them back within range and earning a penalty of their own, which was quickly taken and fed for Caslick to go between the sticks.
Canada tried to carve out another before the break, the green and gold defence holding firm. But it was Treherne who was soon stretching the home line at the other end, and after they had been thwarted by some desperate scramble, Pelite was on hand to give her side a half-time advantage.
It was level-pegging soon after the restart, Brittany Benn making headway for Canada into enemy territory, and Bianca Farella finishing with a dramatic dive for the line after Australia had coughed up successive penalties. 14-all.
Coach Manenti put the call out for his super-sub Green, and she delivered yet again. Steam-rollering her way down the left flank and swatting aside red jerseys, she had too much pace when she got in the clear to restore the Australian lead. And when a lovely kick from Sykes over the defence was scooped up with glee by Tonegato for an easy run home, they had one foot in the door marked victory.
The result was sewn-up in the closing seconds by – who else? – Green, who again showed a clean pair of heels to her chasers to glide home and complete an impressive victory, and an impressive day’s work all round.
WOMEN’S CUP QUARTER-FINAL:
AUSTRALIA v RUSSIA – 3.24am AEDT, Monday 13th May on FoxSports
AUSTRALIA 33 IRELAND 5
Tries: Alicia Quirk, Lily Dick, Charlotte Caslick, Evania Pelite, Ellia Green
Cons: Sam Treherne 4
AUSTRALIA 43 BRAZIL 7
Tries: Ellia Green 2, Evania Pelite, Charlotte Caslick, Sariah Paki, Emma Sykes, Yasmin Meakes
Cons: Sam Treherne 3, Emma Sykes
AUSTRALIA 29 CANADA 14
Tries: Ellia Green 2, Charlotte Caslick, Evania Pelite, Emma Tonegato
Cons: Sam Treherne 2