The fifth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 got off to a flying start when Fiji stunned Glendale winners USA 19-14 in the opening match, but otherwise the fancied teams all won both of their pool matches on Saturday at Bankwest Stadium.
Hosts Australia sit top of Pool C on points difference from France, having raised $16,500 for the Red Cross Appeal supporting those affected by bushfires by scoring 11 tries with Rugby Australia, World Rugby and partners each donating $500 per try scored by the Australian men and women in their home event.
England sit above series leaders the Black Ferns Sevens by virtue of their better points difference after both saw off the challenge of Japan and Russia in Pool A, while Hamilton runners-up Canada top Pool B ahead of their meeting with neighbours USA.
New Zealand would have been expected to rack up the points against invitational side Japan, but some stoic defence from the Sakura Sevens ensured the first half remained scoreless. It didn't remain that way for long with Stacey Fluhler and Tyla Nathan-Wong entering the fray, the former sprinting away for her 26th try of the season. before Kelly Brazier sliced through the defence after taking a quick tap. Two of the Black Ferns Sevens' other big names then joined the party, Michaela Blyde and Ruby Tui dotting down with Nathan-Wong converting all four tries to move to within 10 of 1,000 series points and make the final score 28-0.
The first meeting between New Zealand and Russia on Australian soil saw Nathan-Wong open the scoring for the Black Ferns Sevens but then depart the field clutching her shoulder after falling awkwardly in trying to prevent the final pass for Baizat Khamidova to even things up at 5-5. Theresa Fitzpatrick edged New Zealand ahead before half-time but Russia captain Kristina Seredina burst through and raced away to tie the scores in the second half. New Zealand, though, made it 16 matches unbeaten against Russia thanks to two quick-fire tries by Shiray Kaka to seal a 22-12 victory that sets up the pool decider with England.
The Black Ferns Sevens square off against England at 11.51am NZT on Sunday to decided who will top Pool A. Watch the action live on Sky Sport.