Day 11 | Commonwealth Games 2018: Blank highlights

The final day of the Commonwealth Games was all about the Rugby Sevens for Blank. This abbreviated version of the game sees two seven-person teams battle it out over two seven minute halves, making for a flat-out, exciting and (comparitively) high-scoring match. The Australian men had been bumped out of medal contention the day before in a desperate game with England that saw our guys taken down 26-17, and instead were left to fight for the 5 – 8 placings, while the jubilant Poms were put through to the semi-finals with New Zealand. After taking out Kenya 33-5, the Australian men’s team went through to the next round to fight between fifth and sixth place with Scotland. I think everyone expected a tougher battle, but in a relatively straightforward 26-0 game, our boys claimed their spot in fifth (Tries: Jesse Parahi x 2, Lachlan Anderson, Boyd Killingworth. Conversions: John Porch 3/3, Ben O’Donnell 0/1).

The Australian women’s Rugby Sevens team have had an epic Games, striking fear into the hearts of their opponents in every match. Fast, tough and quick to attack, our ladies were hot favourites in their semi-final match again Canada, so it was a suprise when the Canadian’s put the first point on the board. It was all smooth sailing from there though, with Australians Emilee Cherry and Emma Tonegato‘s tries, convereted by Emma Sykes, taking us to half time with a scoreboard of 14-7. Emma Tonegato quickly followed up with two more, with Charlotte Caslick scoring the final try of the match. Emma Sykes converted all but the last, making the final score 33-7.

Australia and New Zealand women’s teams were probably the most closely matched across the competition, and a pitched battle for the Gold medal was expected. However, the both teams delivered above and beyond. Portia Woodman (NZ) scored first, with a failed conversion making the first balance 5-0. Michaela Blyde (NZ) followed up with a second try, converted by Tenika Willison to take NZ to a healthy half time lead of 12-0. Even an uber-relaxed John Williamson singing ‘True Blue’ from the crowd wasn’t enough to calm frayed nerves, as the Aussies took to the field again with their chances looking shot. Captain Shannon Parry was off the field with an injury, and star player Charlotte Caslick had been forced off with a head knock and wouldn’t be returning.

However, in an courageous fightback, Emilee Cherry scored a try with three minutes left on the clock, before Ellia Green brought the local crowd to their feet with a hard-fought try down the right edge. Australia missed its third conversion attempt, locking the scores at 12-12. The final siren went, and in a moment of sheer confusion, Australian rookie Cassie Staples booted the ball out, bewildering the stadium and her teammates. Forced into extended time, the ball flew fiercely back and forth between the try lines, desperate defence by both teams prompting several penalties but no scores, until a breakaway by New Zealand’s Kelly Brazier saw her sprint 80m to the line, scoring the final points and winning the Gold for the Black Ferns, despite a gut-busting chase by Australia’s Dom Du Toit.
There were tears of happiness from the Kiwis and tears of sheer frustration and grief from the exhausted Aussies. It was truly an epic final that will be remembered for years to come, and has no doubt done wonders for the future of the sport – and especially for the women’s teams. The crowd was on its feet for both sides, and rightly so.

In what turned out to be something of an anti-climax, the men’s Gold medal match took place between Fiji and New Zealand, with New Zealand taking out a comfortable and unsuprising win of 14-0, making it a double Gold for our worthy neighbours. New Zealand and rugby, eh?

Words by Natalie O’Driscoll. Images by Lamp Photography and Nadia Achilles.

 

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