Russia shock England to reach quarters

(IRB.COM) Saturday 29 June 2013  
 
 Russia shock England to reach quarters
Russia's players celebrate their victory over England which saw them top Pool D

Russia saved their best to last on day one of Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 and whipped the Luzhniki Stadium crowd into a frenzy by beating England 17-15 to top Pool D.

The hosts had gone into the final match of the day under huge pressure, knowing that they could not afford to lose against the highly-fancied English if they were to remain in the hunt for the title after they let a 26-7 lead slip in their previous match against France to end up with a draw.

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But their home fans created a cauldron of noise and tries from Ekaterina Kazakova and then Baizat Khamidova in the second half put them on the verge of victory, captain Anastasiia Mukhariamova's conversion of the latter proving decisive after Katy McLean failed to convert Marlie Packer's last gasp try.

The win means Russia avoid IRB Women's Sevens World Series winners New Zealand in the quarter-finals, a fate that now awaits England in an encounter not to be missed on Sunday.

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Elsewhere defending champions Australia got off to the best possible start with three wins over China, South Africa and Ireland to top Pool B. With 17-year-old Tiana Penitani showed superb form, scoring six tries on day one - four of them against China, the Australians have marked themselves out as one of the most dangerous teams in Moscow. Ireland joined them in the quarter-finals as runners-up.

New Zealand, runners up in 2009, were also on-song on day one and saw off the challenges of Canada, the Netherlands and Tunisia to top Pool A. New Zealand, with Kayla McAlister and Kelly Brazier both catching the eye, conceded just one try all day, with the highlight being a 20-5 win over Canada in Luzhniki Stadium. Canada are also through to the quarter-finals from this pool, having gone well on day one apart from their slip-up to New Zealand and now face Russia, not England as they were expecting to.

USA also came though the opening day with a perfect record following victories over Spain, Brazil and Fiji. With Victoria Folayan in particularly good form, the Americans improved throughout the day after a tough workout from Brazil in their opening match and they can go into the quarter-finals with confidence. Spain also qualified for the last eight from this pool.

The results mean that Sunday's Cup quarter-final line-up is now confirmed as:

New Zealand v England
USA v Ireland
Russia v Canada
Australia v Spain

By reaching the Cup quarter-finals at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, these eight nations have also confirmed themselves as core teams for the 2013/14 IRB Women's Sevens World Series.