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Golden Aussies in sevens heaven

9 August 2016

RUGBY SEVENS: Australia has made history by winning the first Olympic rugby sevens gold medal after coming from behind to defeat New Zealand at Deodoro Stadium.

The Australian women defeated the Kiwis 24-17 after conceding a try and being behind 5-0 after less than five minutes.

However, they scored the next 24 points on the back of some faultless, tough defence and brilliant set plays which assisted their fast outside players.

"It's really overwhelming at the moment," Emille Cherry said.

"You look back at the past four or five years and we've been working towards this moment. To go out there in the final and fight like we did for each other was a real credit to all the girls and all the hard work that has been put in."

The New Zealand team came out with plenty of energy and the majority of the opening minutes were played deep inside the Australian half. 

"We knew we had to match them physically and knew they were going to come out really hard and put it to us at the ruck, which they definitely did.

"The team stuck with it though and fell back on what we are good on, which is attacking and holding the ball for the whole time."

Once they started to secure their fair share of possession, the Australians began to show exactly why they were crowned World Series champions earlier in the year.

Emma Tonegato opened Australia's account after seven minutes to level the scores and tries followed to Evania Pelite, Ellia Green and player of the match Charlotte Caslick before the Kiwis scored two tries in the final minute and a half.

Every try and conversion was met with a raptuous applause from the crowd which featured plenty of Australian support from family, friends and fellow Australian Olympic Team members. 

"It's just incredible and our families were here, which makes this the most special thing ever," said Caslick.

"I got to see my family in the crowd and hopefully this will help inspire every young girl around the world to push to achieve their dreams and that they can do everything a boy can do."

Once the final whistle had sounded the team charged the field and then headed to meet their biggest fans.

"My brothers picked me up and I jumped up over the fence," Chloe Dalton said.

"It was pretty emotional giving all the family hugs, then we were having a look at the medal, it obviously feels surreal."

The victory is also a triumph for coach Tim Walsh, who has an amazingly successful record with this team. While winning the World Series title for the first time just a couple of months ago was an amazing achievement, this gold medal has added meaning to it. 

"We’re usually in our little bubble with just the Australian team and we mix with the men but to be a part of a bigger team is just awe inspiring," he said.

"It just has that extra buzz about it, that extra motivation. We’re very privileged and fortunate to be a part of this amazing event."

The victory brought up Australia’s fourth gold medal of the Rio Games, which has Australia sitting third on the medal table behind the USA and China.

Canada beat Great Britain in the bronze medal game.

Neil Cadigan & Matt Bartolo      
olympics.com.au

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