Sharni Williams injured as Australian women’s sevens claim world series win in Dubai

The Australian women’s sevens team continues to stakes its claim for an Olympic Games medal, smashing Russia 31-12 in the opening round of the world series in Dubai.

With Canberra star and captain Sharni Williams out of action with a knee injury, the women’s team did not miss a beat as they brushed aside New Zealand 15-12 in the quarter finals and then cruised past France 26-0 in the semi-finals.

It is an ominous warning to their rivals before rugby sevens’ Olympic debut in Rio next year, as the team establishes itself as a gold-medal contender.

Coach Tim Walsh said: “It was our day today, but it was by no means a fluke.We showed composure and an ability to solve problems on our feet.”

The win over reigning world champions New Zealand gave Australia a perfect boost going into the knockout rounds.

“It’s always unbelievable to beat them. I say that out of respect as, in my eyes, New Zealand is the pinnacle of rugby union.”

ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight continued his Olympic journey, taking the first steps along his path to Rio when he helped the men’s team advance through the pool stages.

Speight will play Super Rugby and sevens next year as he chases an Olympic dream.

In the women’s event, grand final surprise packets Russia, who defeated the Kiwis 33-7 in pool play, were organised early on.

But New Zealand-born Amy Turner eventually made the pressure tell when she scored on the right, before a brilliant offload from Ellia Green released Nicole Beck to cross over.

Russia, with two quick tries, threatened a boilover but their joy was short-lived as Ellia Green sprinted 50 metres on the left to score.

Further tries to Emilee Cherry and Evania Pelite completed a convincing display.

Australia were forced to play the cup final with only 10 players available with forwards Williams (knee) and Chloe Dalton (arm) ruled out.

Both will have further assessment next week back in Sydney. The second leg of the world series will be held in Brazil in mid-February.

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