Kitakyushu 7s: Fijiana Keep Dream Alive As Kiwi’s Chase Third Title

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Fiji's Lavenia Tinai scores a try past Australia's Charlotte Caslick (R) during their rugby match at the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture on April 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kazuhiro NOGI (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

The HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens (7s) kicked off in style at the brand new Mikuni World Stadium. Fijiana kept their hope alive for their first ever cup win, and scored a confidence boosting semifinals appearance. Across the draw, New Zealand (kiwi’s) chase their third title.

In a good day for the traditional foes, results on Day Two will now separate the top eight sides.

Fijiana Keep Dream Alive As Kiwi’s Chase Third Title

Sarah Goss leads the Women’s DHL Performance Tracker, with Fiji’s super-sub Miriama Naiobasali topping the try scoring charts. Every one of the girls are putting their all into this round, with the action and fierce tackling a result.

England face a tough battle against the Kiwis to revive their series, after a slip up on Day One. It all means that Fijiana will now face United States in the Cup Quarters, France v Australia, with Canada tackling the Russians.

There is a ‘Battle Royale’ brewing at the bottom-tier where Spain, Ireland and Spain fight out to see who will likely remain up with ‘the big girls’ next season.

HSBC Kitakyushu 7s: The LOWDOWN

Pool A – New Zealand, Russia, France, Japan.

New Zealand overcame Russia in the final pool game to top Pool A. The series leaders swept through their pool opponents to go three-from-three on Day One. Sarah Goss has had an outstanding opening day, along with the powerful Niall Williams and Portia Woodman (pictured below).

New Zealand’s Portia Woodman (C) jumps to escape from a tackle by Japan’s Mayu Shimizu (L) during their rugby match at the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in Kitakyushu, (Photo credit should read KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images)

France made it to the Cup quarter finals after they overcame Japan 33-5, to finish third in the Pool. It will be an interesting finals day as teams chase more points to reach the top four and gain automatic qualification to the Sevens Women’s Rugby World Cup.

Pool A results: New Zealand 31 Japan 0 | Russia 26 France 5 | New Zealand 19 France 14 | Russia 29 Japan 5 | France 33 Japan 5 | New Zealand 22 Russia 7

Pool B – Australia, Fiji, Ireland, Brazil.

Australia overcame a spirited second half comeback from Fiji, to take out Pool B 17-12. It was a Charlotte Caslick/Elia Green show, that had the Fijians in sixes-and-sevens. In the opening half, they were driven and established a 12-0 lead. Green scored two tries, with Caslick grabbing the third. All the while Fiji tried their damdest, and scored through Miriama Naiobasali and ‘Captain Courageous’ Ana Maria Roqica.

The Fijians have usually been on the receiving-end against the Australian’s but that has changed drastically this season. The Island girls continue to ask questions of the Aussies; as well as the other strong sides. The scores are getting closer, the games tighter, and the gap is closing. It will only be a matter of time before the Fijians topple the Aussies. However, both teams have qualified for the Cup Quarterfinals.

Ireland Upset by Brazil

Brazil kept their core-status hopes alive when they overcame Ireland 27-10. It is a great result for the South Americans heading into Day Two. They certainly need the maximum points on offer, to stay up with the best. Spain and Ireland are the other contenders for the axe from the series–to be replaced by Japan.

Beatriz Muhlbauer of Brazil makes a break to score a try during the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2016/17 Kitakyushu pool match between Ireland  and Brazil (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)
Pool B results: Australia 38 Brazil 0 | Fiji 45 Ireland 0 | Australia 36 Ireland 0 | Fiji 34 Brazil 7 | Ireland 10 Brazil 27 | Australia 17 Fiji 12

Pool C – Canada, United States, England, Spain.

Swarmed defensive patterns from Canada were too much for the United States to handle, as they lost the North American duel 29-12. It was a repeat of the Singapore Sevens final last weekend of the Men’s Series which (like today) the Canadians won.

Bianca Farella was all over the Americans with Megan Sanders feeling her wrath. Kristen Thomas rallied her troops, but it wasn’t to be their day.

England bounced back from their two early defeats in the day, to wallop Spain 21-0. They have been under performing in past tournaments, and were looking to change that at the new Mikuni Stadium. They are rebuilding key combinations which can bring them back to form in time for the Canadian and French legs, later in the series.

Spain will be fighting to gain more points than Brazil on Day Two, as their fight for core-status heats up between the two latin sides.

Pool C results: Canada 29 England 12 | United States 19 Spain 10 | Canada 43 Spain 5 | USA 27 England 5 | Spain 0 England 21 | Canada 29 USA 12

Who will Reign Supreme in Japan Round?

With the ever improving Fijiana breathing down the necks of the Sevens Series leaders, it is ‘who wants it the most’ that will come through strongest. The Canadians are unpredictable, as are their neighbors the United States. Oceania giants Australia and New Zealand can never be counted out, but like the Singapore Sevens ‘anything can happen’ in the game of sevens.

Day Two Fixtures: Cup Quarterfinals

Australia v France | Canada v Russia | Fiji v USA | New Zealand v England

Challenge Trophy Semifinals: Brazil v Ireland | Japan v Spain

So with the fixtures known, it is all up to the players. The battle for to spot begins with the Aussie girls facing France. By the days end, we will know who is going to challenge New Zealand–or, the Sevens Sisters will carry on.

Look forward to more great HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series action tomorrow. All the best to the teams.

“Main photo credit”

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