US give fans plenty to cheer about in Houston
Hosts USA, England and Australia all topped their pools at the end of day one of the Houston Sevens, the second round of the IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
Facing their nearest rivals Canada in the opening match, the USA went behind early but hit back with a great try from skipper Vanesha McGee which saw her sprint 70 metres to score.
Canada took a 12-7 lead into the break but the home side came into their own as the second half wore on and grabbed a deserved equaliser with the clock in red, through Kelly Griffin.
Next up for the USA was another cracker of a game against South Africa. USA took a 17-0 lead and looked home and dry but South Africa had other ideas and raced back with three fast tries to lead 19-17 with just seconds left.
USA’s never say die attitude paid off as Kelly Griffin skipped past a few defenders to score on the full time whistle and to send the crowd into raptures. USA ended the day with a big win over Argentina and went through to the quarter finals in style as pool-toppers.
Elsewhere Australia had a strong day with three wins from three to head into day two with a 100% record, one of two sides to do so. Chris Lane's side had no problems dispatching Brazil and Japan but their final clash against Rugby World Cup Sevens hosts Russia was a predictably tough affair. They were made to work all the way to a 15-10 win with captain Sharni Williams showing all of her leadership skills to shine alongside the likes of Tricia Brown.
Russia performed well throughout the day with Baizat Khamidova and Nadezda Yarmotskaya in flying form. Japan recorded one win over Brazil, with the South Americans looking for their first win tomorrow.
England was the only other side to end day one with a 100% record, which included a 7-5 victory over the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series event in Dubai champions New Zealand.
Barry Maddock's side started well with a hard fought win over the Netherlands and then a more straightforward win against Trinidad and Tobago, but it was their final clash with New Zealand that the crowd ware waiting for, and neither side disappointed.
It was an end to end affair with England taking a 7-0 lead through Natasha Hunt. New Zealand finally broke through a stern England rear-guard but it was too little too late as England saw the game out 7-5 and finished top of the pool.
In the same pool Netherlands had to wait until their final match of the day to record their first win with a comfortable victory over Trinidad & Tobago. The underdog Trinidad & Tobago team were a crowd favourite throughout the day and their first score late in that match drew the biggest cheer of the evening.
England v Netherlands
Canada v New Zealand
USA v Russia
Australia v South Africa
Japan v Trinidad & Tobago
Brazil v Argentina