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SVNS leaders Australia overcome ‘shaky start’ to finish day one unbeaten

By Finn Morton
Australia's Maddison Levi in full flight against Fiji at the Hong Kong Sevens. Picture: World Rugby.

Debutant Ruby Nicholas scored on debut as SVNS Series leaders Australia overcame more red card drama and a “shaky start against Fiji” to finish with an unbeaten 2-0 record on the opening day of play at Hong Kong Stadium.

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Looking to go one better this time after losing last year’s Cup final to arch-rivals New Zealand, Australia stumbled out of the blocks against a Fiji side intent on shocking the rugby sevens world at the iconic venue.

Madison Ashby was sent off during a 19-12 win over Fiji, but the Aussies were significantly better in a 35-point demolition of SVNS Perth champions Ireland later on Friday.

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Finn Morton spoke with Australia captain Charlotte Caslick at the Hong Kong Sevens. Picture: World Rugby.

Maddison Levi scored a double to extend her tournament tally to three already, and Teagan Levi, Bienne Terita and Ruby Nicholas also added to the score as the SVNS heavyweights kickstarted their quest for Cup final glory with two wins from as many starts.

“We had a bit of a shaky start against Fiji,” captain Charlotte Caslick told RugbyPass.

“But the composure that we held, obviously ended up with six on the field again. To finish that game and win it was pretty impressive by the girls.

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“To back up and put out a solid performance. Obviously Ruby (Nicholas) got a try on debut and Bridget (Clark) had a really great debut too. It was a good day.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity this year and we’ve overcome a lot so we’re getting pretty used to it,” she added.

“Just seeing Ruby fill into Mady Ashby’s role and come on and finish the game like that just shows the depth that we’ve got at home.”

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Fiji scored two tries before Faith Nathan and Sharni Smale hit back for the women in gold. But poor discipline risked costing the Aussies once again, with the team receiving a handful of red cards across the squad already this season.

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With the scores locked at 12-all, Maddison Levi was the hero as the try-scoring machine ran away for a clutch score in the 11th minute. There were no more points scored.

It was a similar story in Australia’s big win over the fighting Irish as Maddison Levi crossed for a double and young sister Teagan ran away for a long-range effort of her own.

“Yeah, they were awesome. Obviously, Maddy is one of the best finishers in the game. We get her the ball in space and she always seems to be able to find the try line,” Caslick said.

“Teagan is just going from strength to strength at the moment. It’s really awesome to see her getting some tries as well as Mads.”

The atmosphere at Hong Kong Stadium on Friday was special and with good reason. After 30 years, the Hong Kong Sevens will move to a new venue from 2025.

With the south stand packed on day one and rugby fans in general just enjoying themselves around the iconic venue, all teams want to be the ones to call themselves ‘champions’ at the end of the stadium’s swansong SVNS event.

“We’ve spoken about Hong Kong being an iconic location and the last one in this stadium. It’d be pretty awesome to win it here.

“All of our focus is on Paris and building towards that. The more we win and get used to winning and getting our combinations and cohesion right leading into Paris is the major work on.”

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B.J. Spratt 3 hours ago
Jono Gibbes' reaction to France U20s putting 55 points on New Zealand

N.Z. Under 20'‘s concede 7 tries to France Unfortunately New Zealand Rugby has lost over 25% + of players between 12-18 over the last 3-5 years, possibly more. Poor administration and a Shocking Public Perception about the NZRFU has finally caught up with these dinosaurs. 66% of N.Z. Population lives North of Hamilton and 52% of Auckland population are Asian, who would rather play football. Rugby is dying while other Sports are growing. The rules need to change around the collision/tackle but personally I think the absolute “Arrogance and Stupidity” that the NZRFU has demonstrated over the decades, “with their jobs for the boys attitude” has led to their demise. A Professional Players Union that can somehow “Disassociate itself from the “Old men with bad breath and dandruff” that is the NZRFU, will be a huge challenge. Personally I think it’s far too late to recover and rejuvenate interest in Rugby by young players. Rugby is booming in France and that’s the difference. A booming Professional domestic League. NZRFU are “Not fit for purpose” and have no idea about commercial reality My kids generation would rather their kids don’t play Rugby. Very aware of CTE and the NZRFU arrogance and stupidity, in denying its existence. Finally, the NZRFU have managed to cover up ”Numerous serious crimes over the decades, committed by players, coaches and administrators simply because the tentacles of their “Power and Influence” have reached all sectors of New Zealand Society, including the Judiciary, Politicians, Police and Big business. Denying CTE even exists is a “no brainer for them”

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