Aussie Levi's seven tries in Dubai Sevens

Fri, Dec 2, 2022, 11:19 PM
AAP
by AAP
The Australian Women's Sevens have stolen a thrilling final in Langford to take the World Series crown.

Maddison Levi has proved the opening-day star for Australia's world champions at the Dubai Sevens, shooting over for seven tries in three games as they swept into the women's quarter-finals.

But Australia's men, fresh from their Hong Kong Sevens triumph, didn't have things their own way as they scraped into the last eight of their tournament on Friday on points difference, despite a last-match loss to South Africa.

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Charlotte Caslick was leading the women's team in her first tournament of the season since being awarded the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year award, and she helped orchestrate their three comfortable group victories, which featured 16 tries.

Seven of those came from the powerful, fleet-footed 20-year-old Levi, who'd also been on the shortlist for the World Player Award after her hat-trick helped sink New Zealand in the World Cup final.

In Dubai, the Rookie of the Year opened up with a try in the 36-7 opening win over China, a pair in the 33-0 victory over Canada and then four, including a first-half hat-trick, in a solo tour de force during the 29-12 triumph over the USA.

Madison Ashby also scored a try in each of the three matches while Faith Nathan, who on the eve of the event had become the fourth key player in quick succession to commit her future to the Australian programme, also celebrated with a try against China.

In their first tournament of the new season following their 2022 'Triple Crown' of World Cup, season-long World Series and Commonwealth Games triumphs, the Australians showed they'll take some stopping again as they set up a quarter-final date on Saturday with Fiji.

Meanwhile, the Aussie men, who made a fine start to their own World Series defence with the country's first victory in the marquee Hong Kong Sevens event for 34 years, just about negotiated a tough challenge to get through a 'group of death' featuring Kenya, GB and South Africa's 'Blitzboks'.

They were under the cosh after they could only draw 19-19 with Kenya in their opener, Maurice Longbottom coming up with a late equalising try.

They then produced their best in a 28-19 victory over the British team thanks to another bit of magic from Longbottom and other tries from Kye Oates, the stand-out Henry Hutchison and Nathan Lawson.

In the key final match against the 'Blitzboks', the Aussies suffered a dreadful start as Dietrich Roache saw yellow for a neck roll and was followed off by Lawson, who got penalised for a high shot.

The South Africans took advantage with tries from Siviwe Soyizwapi and JC Pretorius but the restored Lawson and Longbottom, who struck in his third game in a row, responded with tries that left the game in the balance until Dalvon Blood sped away with the winner in the dying seconds.

The 19-12 defeat was not quite enough to eliminate Australia, who qualified for a quarter-final with USA on Saturday by having a superior points difference in their group to GB - but only by a mere two points.

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