Australia, New Zealand women shine on day 1 of Sydney 7s

SYDNEY — Australia, New Zealand and Canada topped their pools Friday on the first day of women's competition at the Sydney Rugby Sevens tournament.

Olympic champions Australia were emphatic winners of Pool A, beating Spain 29-0, Papua New Guinea 50-0 and France 43-0. The first-up win over Spain, in which Emma Sykes scored two tries, set the tone for the hosts' day.

"The girls came out firing and it was a really good first game result," Sykes said. "We've still go a lot to learn and a lot to fix up but it as a good first game.

"It was good to get out there and get the first win of the tournament."

New Zealand, led by world women's Player of the Year Portia Woodman, beat Japan 48-7, England 33-12 and the United States 31-0 to top Pool B. Woodman scored four of New Zealand's eight tries in its win over Japan and scored three tries in each of its wins over England and the United States, bringing her career tally to 161.

New Zealand lost to the United States in the quarterfinals of the first leg of the World Series at Dubai in December and was relieved to avenge that loss.

"Finishing on a result like that to the USA, a team that's beaten us twice over the last year or so, shows a lot that our team is coming together," Woodman said. "We just went home (after Dubai) and really focused on the points where they really broke us down.

"They play a really up front, contact game and we knew that they do that but we kind of let them through and didn't make the up front tackles."

England missed out on the quarterfinals when it suffered its second-ever loss to Japan in a World Series match, going down 17-10 in the biggest shock in Pool B.

"We're better than that and we'll regroup," England's Emily Scarratt said. "We have worked really hard since Dubai. We'll come back a lot better."

Canada beat Russia 19-5 to top Pool C after beating Fiji 24-12 and Ireland 24-12. Russia had previously beaten Ireland 19-7 and Fiji 19-12 to make their clash with Canada the pool decider.

Australia will meet Spain again in Saturday's quarterfinals while the United States will play Russia, New Zealand will meet Ireland and Canada will play France.

The men's tournament also began Friday with the first round of matches in pool play.

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