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Australian Women's Sevens side finish fifth in Atlanta
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ARU Media Unit
Qantas Australian Women's Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh has challenged his charges to recover from the disappointment of a fifth place finish at the Atlanta Sevens overnight.
Defeat to the USA in the Cup Quarter-Finals left Australia fighting for series points in the Plate at Kennesaw State University, a competition they ultimately won after wins against England and France.
Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "Every point counts towards our dream of qualification for the Rio Olympics and the team bounced back well in those last two games after a very sub-standard performance against the USA. Despite finishing with five wins out of six over the weekend and it not affecting our overall series position, it was completely unacceptable for a team of our talent.
"We will take the couple of positives and make sure the mistakes we made will not occur again."
In a gruelling game, Australia eventually overcame a dogged French outfit (26-17) in the Plate Final. Shannon Izar opened the scoring for France only for a clever burst from Amy Turner to give the Aussies the lead. France regained the advantage through Pauline Biscarat, but tries from Tiana Penitani and a double from Ellia Green gave Walsh's side a lead they would not relinquish. Marjorie Mayans crossed after the final siren for Les Bleus but it proved only a consolation.
Australia earlier bowed out of the Cup competition at the Quarter-Final stage after falling to the USA (10-5) after the final siren. Emilee Cherry had given the Aussies the perfect start when she scythed through the American defence to score straight from the kick-off in the first half, but tries from Kathryn Johnson and Kristen Thomas handed the hosts the win.
Minus the injured Emilee Cherry and Charlotte Caslick, Australia recovered from their earlier defeat by beating England (24-12). Amy Turner was the beneficiary of a beautiful pass from Alicia Quirk to touch down in the right corner before Sharni Williams offloaded to Emma Tonegato who added another after five minutes. The impressive Evania Pelite then dotted down twice and despite two late tries from England's Amy Wilson-Hardy and Sarah McKenna it was not enough as the green and gold qualified for the Plate Final.
Emilee Cherry will have scans on an injured knee sustained in the latter stages of the Cup Quarter-Final against the USA, while Charlotte Caslick was unavailable for the Plate Finals against England and France with concussion.
Elsewhere at the Atlanta Sevens, New Zealand extended their advantage at the top of the series standings after beating the USA in the Cup Final (50-12) while Canada finished third having seeing off Russia.
At the halfway point of the 2014-15 Women's Sevens World Series, Australia sit second in the standings ahead of Canada on points difference over the course of the season to date. With the top four countries securing automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, the next round of the World Series heads to Langford in Canada for the very first time on the weekend of 18-19 April.
Qantas Australian Women’s Sevens results in Atlanta, USA, 15-16 March:
Australia 36-0 Fiji, Pool B
Australia 24-7 Spain, Pool B
Australia 19-7 France, Pool B
Australia 5-10 USA, Cup Quarter-Finals
Australia 24-12 England, Plate Semi-Final
Australia 26-17 France, Plate Final
Final placings for the Brazil Sevens (Top 6):
1. New Zealand (20 World Series points), 2. USA (18 points), 3. Canada (16 points), 4. Russia (14 points), 5. Australia (12 points), 6. France (10 points)
Current standings in the 2014/15 World Rugby Women's Sevens World Series (top 6):
1. New Zealand (60 World Series points), 2. Australia (48 points), 3. Canada (48 points), 4. France (38 points), 5. USA (36 points), 6. England (32 points)