Subarashī / すばらしい. Adjective. ‘Wonderful; splendid; magnificent; fantastic’.
Australia’s women’s sevens team has started off the 2017-18 with a perfect six from six to take gold in the first leg of the World Sevens Series in Dubai.
In what will be a relief to Aussie fans, Australia appeared to have shaken off the pressure that contributed to them underperforming in their attempt to retain their 2016-17 World Sevens Series championship. The new-look team showcased refreshed attacking plays and a relentless level of physical fitness to close out their Dubai sevens campaign with a 34-0 thrashing of USA.
After consistently building on their performance throughout their pool games against Japan, Russia and England, Australia came into the finals on Day 2 as one of the clear favourites for a top-four finish. Convincing wins over England and bogey team Canada then paved the way for Australia’s finals berth.
After shocking the sevens world with a win over reigning series champions New Zealand in their quarter-final, USA struggled to keep pace with the intensity and speed of Australia in the final. Australia ended the first half 15-0 up with stars Emma Tonegato, Evania Pelite and Sharni Williams all crossing the try line. Australia then ran away with the win to finish the game 34-0 with a Dom Du Toit double and an ever-reliable Emilee Cherry five-pointer.
The relief of coming away with a win in a cup final after so many close finishes the previous season was evident on the Australian players’ faces when the full-time whistle was blown. It will also serve as a massive confidence boost coming into the Sydney sevens in January 2018.
A key take away from the first leg of the series is the depth of Australia’s playing talent. With a number of high profile names missing from the squad, Australia’s new playing combinations proved to be a success.
Debutante Page McGregor along with young guns Emma Sykes and Dom Du Toit all contributed heavily to Australia’s perfect record in Dubai. This demonstrates the strength of the development pathways in place for sevens players in Australia and the long-term vision of the team leading up to the next Olympic games in 2020.
Despite plenty of positives in their overall dominance, Australia came away from the tournament with a lot to work on leading into the next round. Moments of poor handling, errors in judgement and rushed passes did not impact on the final outcome in Dubai but will hurt Australia if and when they come up against a switched-on New Zealand or Canada in future competitions.
After the highs of the team’s Olympic gold win in 2016, the Australian players were the first to concede that they struggled to refocus and back up in their performances across the 2016-17 World Sevens Series. With a world series, Commonwealth Games and Sevens World Cup coming up next year, Australia’s Dubai sevens win may just be the catalyst the team needed to rebuild their record as the world’s number-one sevens team.