HSBC SVNS 2024: Australia and New Zealand cruise into Cape Town quarter-finals

Three sides finish day one in South Africa with perfect winning records.

Australia’s Maddison Levi scored her 100th series try as the Dubai champions won three from three on the opening day at the Cape Town Sevens.

Levi added another five touchdowns to the 12 she scored last weekend, to reach 100 tries in just 15 tournaments as the Australians set out their stall for a first-ever sevens series win in South Africa.

New Zealand and France, too, qualified for the quarter-finals with three wins from three.

Australia will face Ireland in the second quarter-final on Sunday, while New Zealand take on Canada, France will meet Fiji, and Great Britain will play USA.

POOL A: Australia at full throttle 

Australia opened their Cape Town account with an imperious-looking 38-0 win over Spain, but the truth is that they had to work harder than the seedings suggested, as Spain held them to 12-0 at half-time.

The Dubai champions stepped it up in their second outing against Japan, winning 54-0, as their all-round game clicked into gear. 

And they beat Fiji 28-7, Adi Vani Buleki becoming the first opposition player to register a point against Australia in the pool phase of HSBC SVNS 2024.

Maddison Levi described becoming the fastest Australian player to reach 100 sevens tries as ‘insane’, after ensuring quarter-final qualification with a double in their third and final match. 

“I guess we always do really well in Dubai and coming to Cape Town, we’ve never won here,” she said. “We won the World Cup here, I guess it’s motivation to prove that we can do it on this soil. But we’ll take it as it comes.”

Earlier, Buleki scored two of Fiji’s six tries as they beat Japan 36-12. They then survived 10 minutes with a player disadvantage, after Ana Maria Naimasi was sent off, to beat Spain 14-10.

Japan rounded off their first day with a hard-fought 22-19 win over Spain.

POOL B: 200 beckons for Black Ferns Sevens’ Blyde

Michaela Blyde reached 199 international sevens tries 10 minutes into New Zealand Sevens’ 37-5 statement win over Great Britain in the opening match at Cape Town. 

Six days after Australia had ended their winning streak at 41 matches in the Dubai final, New Zealand were clearly on a mission as they tore Great Britain apart. Brazil then made them work for a 22-12 win in their second match, before they eased past Ireland 33-7 to make it three from three and set up a possible second shot against Australia in the final.

After securing a quarter-final place, New Zealand’s teenage sensation Jorja Miller said: “Last week was a grinding tournament. We were pretty, not disappointed, but we knew we had better so to come out here today, get three, and be ready with some good prep and get into tomorrow.”

Ireland's Aimee-Leigh Murphy Crowe climbed to third in the series try-scorers list with a hat-trick as they beat Brazil 39-14. But the Irish came a cropper in their second outing, though they grabbed a losing bonus point late on as they went down 15-19 to Great Britain.

Great Britain raced away in the second half of their match against Brazil – the score went from 12-12 at half-time to 26-12 after four minutes of the second period, where the scoreboard stayed for the rest of the match.

POOL C: France want more after topping pool

France became the third team in Cape Town to go into finals day with a perfect pool phase record. 

Their third match against Canada – a repeat of the bronze final in Dubai – was a thriller. Canada had a chance to level the scores at the death, after Chloe Daniels’ late try. But she pulled her conversion attempt wide, to let France off the hook and top the pool with a 19-17 win.

Earlier, Les Bleues had opened their campaign with a 29-7 win over hosts South Africa, Anne-Cecile Ciofani making one impossible try and scoring an 80 metre special as France came back after conceding an early lead. 

And they had put on a pool play masterclass in their second outing of the day, as they beat last year’s Cape Town bronze medalists USA 31-0, despite a slightly wasteful first half, when they scored just 12 points, despite numerous entries into the danger zone.

“It was quite amazing having the crowd behind us. We started good, we just didn’t convert the last bit – handling errors and not keeping our ball,” South Africa’s Mathrin Simmers said on the touchline following the loss to France. 

“[It’s] quite amazing playing with the best teams in the world, it’s really amazing having the girls here to showcase our talent,” she added.

South Africa lost their second match, against Canada, 40-0, and their third against USA 34-0.

USA’s Naya Tapper raced under the posts on the stroke of half-time, as they bagged a 14-0 lead at the break of their opening match against Canada. Alex Sedrick’s try early in the second half settled the match as a contest before Canada came back with two late tries, taking the final score to 21-14.