The Aussie sevens women continued their merry way taking out the tournament while the men, after the euphoria of Hong Kong, hit a bit of a hurdle.
As an aside, the first ever women’s World Rugby Sevens Series started in Dubai in 2012, Sharni Williams is the only player to have played in all 11 Dubai tournaments
The pool stage was a trifecta, a draw with Kenya, a win over Great Britain and a loss to South Africa. When they hit the quarter finals they were not firing on all cylinders and it showed.
There were a couple of issues which you could not quite put your finger on. Someone mentioned Nick Malouf may have hurt his ankle, he is the talisman captain and an expert in regathering the kick restarts.
In addition, the loss of speedster Corey Toole, who is part of the Brumbies squad now, and James Turner getting injured in Hong Kong seemed to take away a bit of the men’s speed. In saying that, the excitement machine Maurice Longbottom played very well and is just a great watch.
In the quarter final the USA seemed to boss them around taking the game 24-19, it was close but no cigar. Then they had to play Argentina for the fifth place play off and that did not go to plan either. So the self-named ‘misfits’ will need to quickly regroup for Cape Town.
The men’s series seems more competitive than ever. Astonishingly Fiji did not make the quarter finals. So like the Australians they had an off tournament. Also in the mix are Ireland who ended up losing in the final to South Africa and Argentina are regularly competing for a podium finish.
The women kept on keeping on. In what is always a highlight (for us Aussie fans), they defeated the Kiwis in the final 26-19. The pool stage went according to plan with comfortable wins over China, Canada and a tighter win over USA.
In the quarter finals while the final score of 38-21 seemed comfortable the Fijiana made it difficult, scoring two tries before the Aussies got into the game.
The Fijiana are always a tough opponent, they are very physical, you have to starve them of the ball. The semi final was a pretty straight forward 38-5 win over France which was a bit of a surprise as the French are a quality side.
In the end the final came down to a dog fight again with the Kiwis. The Aussies seemed to have it under control for most of the final.
It should be noted the Kiwis were missing a couple of big guns, Sarah Hirini, Stacey Fluhler and Portia Woodman, but still had Kelly Brazier, Tyler Nathan-Wong, Niall Williams, Michaela Blyde, (with a hattrick of tries in the final), and Shiray Kaka.
Maddison Levi’s try in the final took her to the top of the all-time Dubai try-scorers list on 11.
Madison Ashby took out player of the final. She had a terrific tournament, apart from her usual playmaking she was also very strong over the ball, getting a few turnovers.
For the Aussie women the usual suspects performed as we have come to expect. A couple of player comments. The evergreen Sharni Williams just keeps on doing what Sharni Williams does, makes tackles, makes runs, makes the right decisions. Plus crucially kicked three conversions in the final.
As most would be aware the women’s team is chock full of gun players. But the player who is arguably most unique and possibly irreplaceable is Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea. The there is no other player that does what she does in terms of physicality in both attack and defence.
In addition, she seems to have been given the opportunity to show her playmaking and passing skills. She threw some terrific long passes to set up tries for the likes of Maddi Levi. Additionally it appears she is playing longer minutes so is having more of an impact.
Like the men, they are now off to the Cape Town stop, which starts this Friday, 9th December 2022.