Australia come agonisingly close to Dubai double
Australia’s outstanding rugby women have powered to a second straight Dubai Sevens trophy in successive weeks, while their male counterparts fell agonisingly short in their final.
The Australian women maintained their dominant unbeaten sequence over the past two weeks on Saturday to lift the title with a convincing 15-5 triumph in the final over Fiji, who they also beat in last weekend’s showdown.
The Aussie men, who had also reached their final unbeaten, were then left crestfallen at coming so close to ending the remarkable winning run of South Africa’s brilliant ‘Blitzboks’ before going down 10-7.
Two tries from Madison Ashby and another from player of the final Faith Nathan were enough for the Australian women to largely control affairs in the final against the ‘Fijiana’, just as they had done in their 22-7 win the previous week.
Charlotte Caslick, the star in that previous final, was again outstanding after Demi Hayes’ side had been reduced to six in th e second half with four minutes left because of a harsh sin-binning of Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea for a deliberate knock-on.
Caslick’s remarkable workrate saw her earn a crucial late turnover to ease the Aussies’ path to their first back-to-back world series titles for nearly four years.
Earlier on Saturday, they had wrapped up a 26-17 win over Russia in their final pool game.
And over five matches across the two days, the Australians’ dominance had been clear as they racked up 168 points, featuring 26 tries, including six from Nathan, who scored in every match, and another half-dozen from Caslick.
“I’m so proud of the girls. That’s exactly how we wanted to start this series and considering that it’s the first back-to-back series ever in Dubai, we’re so stoked,” said Hayes.
“We just kept to our structure, and knew exactly how we wanted to play, with width and making them run lots,” added the captain, whose side suffocated their opponents with non -stop pressure in the opening half as they led 10-0.< /p>
Dubai has proved a happy hunting ground for the Australians after the COVID pandemic forced the cancellation of the planned world series event in South Africa and ended with the UAE capital staging a tournament two weeks running.
The South African men also completed the Dubai ‘double’ but even as they maintained their incredible record of 24 successive wins across four consecutive events, no-one came closer to ruining the streak than the Australians who were still hammering away for a winning score in the dying seconds.
After the South Africans had gone ahead within 45 seconds through Siviwe Soyizwapi, Brumbies’ Corey Toole scooted over for his sixth try of the week as Australia squeezed ahead 7-5.
But a dazzling bit of skill from JC Pretorius saw him race over in the second half for the decisive score which makes the ‘Blitzboks’ the first team to win three successive Dubai titles since New Zealand in 2002.
New Zealand and Australia would normally have hosted the next legs of the sevens world series but those events have been cancelled and replaced by two events in Spain in January.
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