An action-packed second day of Commonwealth Games rugby sevens saw Australia and Fiji reach Sunday’s women’s gold medal match after a pair of pulsating semi-finals played in front of a vibrant atmosphere in a packed Coventry Stadium in England.
Meanwhile the semi-finallists of the men’s competition were decided as Olympic champions Fiji and reigning World and Commonwealth champions New Zealand will go head to head in Sunday’s first semi-final. Current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leaders South Africa will face Australia, winners of the last round of the World Series in London in May to complete an exciting semi-final line-up.
The first women’s semi-final was a repeat of the 2018 Commonwealth Games final as arch rivals Australia and New Zealand battled it out for a place in the final in Coventry. This time it was Australia who came out on top, securing a thrilling 17-12 victory thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Maddison Levi. Levi also picked up a yellow card near the end but the Rio 2016 Olympic champions and current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winners held on for the victory to cue ecstatic scenes of celebration at the final whistle.
Australia’s match winner Levi said: "Getting over our neighbours is pretty exciting and to seal the deal with that last try was fantastic. I felt we were pretty much in control. We could match them for skill, so we knew it was effort that would get us over the line."
Olympic bronze medallists Fiji proved too strong for Canada in the second semi-final as they ran out 24-7 winners to book their place in what promises to be a high quality final against Australia on Sunday.
Fiji women’s coach Saiasi Fuli is looking ahead to the final: “We have to take the opportunity as it comes around only every four years. So we have to recover well, and come back tomorrow and play our best for Fiji. The past two years has been a big journey. Women’s rugby in Fiji is growing fast and there is a lot of interest. Our role is to continue to develop and inspire girls to come and join our sport.”
In the first of the men’s quarter-finals double Olympic champions Fiji turned on the style to beat a valiant Scotland 34-7, while current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leaders South Africa were too strong for Canada, claiming a 33-0 win.
Reigning Commonwealth champions New Zealand made light work of Kenya with a 31-0 win to reach the semi-finals, while Australia had to dig deep to beat Samoa 7-0 courtesy of a single try scored by Matthew Gonzalez.
Fiji’s double Olympic gold medallist Jerry Tuwai said: “I’m excited, really excited and I’m really happy for the boys and our effort in the quarter-final and now we are ready for the semi-final. We are ready, the boys are happy and everyone is mentally prepared.”
Earlier on Saturday the morning session saw the third and final round of pool matches and in the women’s tournament New Zealand broke home fans hearts with a 38-7 victory over England, which saw the hosts fail to reach the semi-finals as Canada’s 74-0 win over Sri Lanka saw them claim second spot in pool A and a place in the semi-finals.
Olympic bronze medallists Fiji were too strong for Australia, winning a high quality match 19-12 to top pool B, with Australia finishing as runners-up and therefore meeting pool A winners New Zealand in the semi-finals.
In men’s competition it was New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji who maintained their perfect win records to top their pools.
New Zealand’s men also ended hosts England’s medal hopes with a convincing 20-0 win, and the All Blacks Sevens were joined in the quarter-finals from pool A by Samoa who thrashed Sri Lanka 44-0.
South Africa were too strong for Scotland in pool B, running out 34-0 winners as both teams progressed to the quarter-finals.
Olympic champions Fiji overcame Wales 38-24 in an entertaining encounter in the final match of the morning session.
Pool D was the most closely contested. After Friday’s thrilling draw with impressive Uganda, Australia had to work hard to claim a 7-5 victory over Kenya, which was enough to see them top pool D, with Kenya in second place also through to the quarter-finals.
England’s men and women both bounced back with big victories in the evening session on Saturday, much to the delight of the 25,000 strong crowd. The women beat South Africa 36-0, while the men defeated Jamaica 45-7 and both host teams will play against home nations neighbours on Sunday with the men facing Wales at 11:14 BST and the women playing Scotland at 18:22 BST in the fifth place play-off.
Finals day kicks off at 10:30 BST on Sunday with the women’s gold medal match at 20:38 followed by men’s final at 21:04 BST with a bumper crowd expected to be entertained by another showcase of world class rugby sevens.