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Australia’s rugby sevens women have swiftly bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on a ‘three-peat’ of world series triumphs to race into the quarter-finals of the latest tournament in Seville.
Still smarting from the end of their 15-match winning streak in last week’s Spain Sevens in Malaga, the Australians looked in sharp form at their latest Spanish venue, qualifying on Friday for the knock-out stages with a day to spare.
Inspired by Charlotte Caslick, the impact player of the series so far, and the returning Sharni Williams, Tim Walsh’s side eased to two comfortable victories in Pool C, hammering Belgium 38-0 before dismantling the hosts Spain 26-7 in the day’s final match.
Australia, who won bronze in Malaga after two triumphs in Dubai at the end of last year, will next meet France in their final group match with both teams already guaranteed a place in the last-eight ties to be staged later on Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT).
Star of the day for the Aussies was the electric Faith Nathan, who bagged three tries, including a spring-heeled double down the right wing against the hosts.
Caslick, the series’ leading try scorer and offload deliverer, scored her 16th try of the campaign against Belgium, with Tia Hinds, Nathan, Lily Dick, Madison Ashby and Dominique du Toit also crossing the whitewash.
In the later game, Spain offered some resistance, answering a brilliant solo try from 21-year-old Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea to make it 7-all before Nathan’s super double, sandwiching another score for du Toit, sealed a straightforward win.
The Australian men also enjoyed a successful start, winning their one game of the day 42-0 win over Kenya, a result never in doubt after captain Henry Hutchison went over for two tries in the first six minutes.
Corey Toole also powered over for a brace while Maurice Longbottom and Yool Yool helped themselves in the six-try fest.
The United States needed a late converted try to prevent being upset by Spain in what would have been the shock of the day. The Americans eventually prevailed 28-26 over the hosts after the lightning Carlin Isles scored their fourth try and Steve Tomasin converted.
The unbeaten world series leaders South Africa didn’t get the chance to play because Samoa missed the tournament due to pandemic travel restrictions.