RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Top seeds Australia needed a last gasp conversion to avoid an upset at the hands of the United States in their final pool match as the quarter-final picture became clear at the inaugural women’s sevens tournament on Sunday.
The Americans were leading 12-5 on the back of two tries from flying winger Jessica Javelet with seconds on the clock when Australia’s Emma Tonegato crashed over the line for her second try of the game.
Chloe Dalton lined up the dropkick and calmly slotted the ball through the posts to save a 12-12 draw and the blushes of the world series champions, who face Spain in the last eight.
“We haven’t got the loss against our name but it was definitely the kick up the pants that we needed going into the quarter-final,” said Australia coach Tim Walsh.
“I sent a message out to Chloe saying this is for the gold medal so keep your head down and slot this, and she did. I think she really likes the pressure.”
Australian former track sprinter Ellia Green was taken off as a precaution after a heavy early tackle but passed the first concussion protocol and would probably be fit for the quarter-final, Walsh said.
The reward for the United States was a last eight meeting with Pool B winners New Zealand, who earlier beat a tricky French side 26-7.
Javelet said the Americans, upset by Fiji on day one on Saturday, were just happy to be in the quarter-finals later on Sunday.
“This is the game that we play for, the quarter-final is the most important game,” she said.
Third seeds Canada, who did not concede a point in their first two matches, were also brought down to earth with a bang on Sunday when Britain breached their defence four times in a 22-0 victory that gave them top spot in Pool C.
“We’re better than that,” said Canada’s Jen Kish. “Britain exposed us but it’s better now than later and we’re still in the quarter-finals, where we play France.”
Amy Wilson-Hardy scored the pick of Britain’s tries with a lung-bursting run down the wing to complete an 80-metre move that helped set up a quarter-final against the physical Fijians, who routed Colombia 36-0 in their final pool match.
“It’s a massive tournament and everyone’s stepping up their game so it’s going to take a massive performance to get a victory,” said Wilson-Hardy.
Brazil, Colombia, Kenya and Japan were the teams to miss out on the knockout rounds and they will play off later on Sunday for a “core team” place on next year’s world series. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Bill Rigby)