RUGBY SEVENS: The Australian Women’s Rugby Sevens side have played superbly to dominate Canada and become the first Rugby Sevens Olympic champions.
In the sport’s dress rehearsal for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Australians defeated an experienced side from Canada 38-10 at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China on Day 4.
Toowoomba's 17-year-old Dominique du Toit, with her blistering speed and flying plaited hair was the star, scoring three tries.
Other tries for Australia came from Tayla Stanford (18, NSW), Team Flag Bearer Tiani Penitani (18, NSW) and Marioulla Belessis (17, QLD) who scored on the final siren.
It was a superb Team effort by the Australian girls who were ahead 12-5 at half-time of the tough encounter.
“I feel incredible. Just knowing that we’ve worked so hard and our hard work has paid off,” du Toit said.
“I didn’t expect to score three tries at all actually. We have a team that has so much speed and so much skill and we always work together as a team.”
Penitani, who fought back from a serious injury to co-captain the Team with Brooke Anderson, was very emotional with the victory.
"I'm speechless at the moment I just feel like crying," Penatani said.
"The girls worked so hard and fought to the finish, it was a big 20 minute game after a lot of hard pool games.
"We knew what we were capable of and we deserved the win. The girls stayed so composed even when Canada was scoring points against us....I'm just so proud."
"It means a lot to me," Anderson added.
"Coming back from a knee reconstruction a year out, to come back to a tournament like this with the girls has been the best experience of my life. We all gelled really well together.
"Before every game we wanted to get out there and work for each other. That's what we did and we happened to come off with a gold medal and we've made history.
"There's a lot of girls (here) that have a lot of potential to lead up to that Rio Olympics. I'm pretty sure if we all keep working pretty hard, a lot of us will get a chance at being there so it's been pretty good."
The Australian Team who, coached by Scott Bowen, in China were undefeated for the tournament.
Australia knew they needed to move the ball quickly and not get stuck in a physical encounter with their much bigger opponents.
The Australians were forced to tackle superbly as the Canadians kept pushing hard up the middle of the field. Team Canada featured three players from the senior national squad.
Both Penitani and Williams were yellow carded for infringements during the Game but it was the Australians who capitalised on these opportunities on the scoreboard.
The athleticism and skill on display was a great showcase for the sport and a great stepping stone for these girls who will start looking ahead now to Rio 2016.
National Women's Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "This is a historic day for Women's Rugby Sevens in Australia and a window into the future of this sport.
"The talent and potential in this country is huge and the performance from these girls is both inspiring and proof of that fact. The preparation for this tournament shows the character of the program and the dedication from all its members.
"From senior players assisting in coaching to Alice Bowen stepping in as manager but particularly to Scott Bowen for his relentless passion and love for the game."
The Rugby Sevens gold was Australia's second gold medal for the Games following the triathlon win by Brittany Dutton on Day 1.
The Australian Sevens Team:
Brooke Anderson (NSW), Marioulla Belessis (QLD), Shenae Ciesiolka (QLD), Dominique Du Toit (QLD), Kellie-Marie Gibson (WA), Raecene Mcgregor (NSW), Caitlin Moran (NSW), Tiana Penitani (NSW), Amber Pilley (NSW), Mackenzie Sadler (SA), Tayla Stanford (NSW), Laura Waldie (QLD). Coach: Scott Bowen