182-blot: Australia into Sevens final after another flawless win

Australia's women will face trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in a blockbuster final at the Sydney Sevens after they once again managed to not concede a single try during another completely dominant outing.

After easily accounting for Spain 29-0 earlier on Saturday, Australia continued their one-sided campaign by sizzling past Russia 31-0 in the semi-finals to set up a mouthwatering clash with the Kiwis at 2:37pm on Sunday.

Remarkably, Australia managed to keep a clean sheet in their opening five games, scoring 182 points to their opponents' zero.

By comparison, New Zealand have chalked up 174 points in their five games and conceded a very respectable 19 points.

"That's the most pleasing thing," said coach Tim Walsh of his side's defence. "We had desire, attitude and hunger. They're effective tackles as well, not scrappy half tackles."

Asked if the possibility of going through the tournament without conceding a point was achievable, Walsh said: "It is realistic but we don't even think about it to be honest. It's game by game ??? it really is. When you're up against a formidable team like New Zealand there will be periods when we might let in tries.

"That would be pretty special [though]. You can ask me later and I'll give it the fist-pump [if we do it] but we'll just concentrate on playing well."

New Zealand's Tyla Nathan-Wong labelled the feat "impressive" while Australian star Alicia Quirk said: "It's a real testament to the defensive work we've been putting in to keep the other teams to zero. We're really looking to being able to play in the final."

New Zealand were last year's World Sevens Series champions and Australia have struggled against their Kiwi rivals in recent years.

Since a famous gold medal at the Rio Olympics, Australia have not beaten New Zealand in sevens. There have been five defeats and the most recent loss came in the final of the World Series leg in Clermont-Ferrand in June last year.

New Zealand's last three results in Sydney have been 31-0, 36-0 and 26-0 victories.

"Like all the good teams in the world, they've just got good threats all over the place," Walsh said. "Player-for-player there are really good match-ups and the reality is if one team makes a mistake, the other is going to pounce on it. It is going to be a battle of the breakdown, skills and in the air."

Come Sunday when the two sides do battle, organisers expect a bumper crowd at Allianz Stadium cheering home Australia's golden girls.

After the disappointment of finishing fourth last year, a weight of pressure has been lifted off the team's shoulders but Walsh gave his assurance the job was not yet done.

"They've always handled pressure really well," Walsh said. "We're against New Zealand; the current world champions, who are on fire. It's going to be an epic game.

"We didn't play well [last year] but I don't think it was because of the pressure. I'll take responsibility for it. I got them back from Rio too early and we were physically and mentally really flat. We weren't performing and that's down to many different things but I don't think it was the pressure. This year we're fitter and in a good mental space."

Kiwi coach Allan Bunting added: "They're a consistent team ??? they're pretty hard to stop."

During the first half of the semi-final there was an ugly incident. Australian's Evania Pelite was kicked in the head by Russian player Alena Mikhaltsova while she was on the ground.

World Rugby immediately cited Mikhaltsova for the kick, which could have caused significant damage to Pelite's head.

While the kick did not look completely intentional when replayed, there is no denying it was reckless and unnecessary.

Instead, the 22-year-old Aussie dusted herself off and made a tackle just seconds later before making a try-saving stop on Mikhaltsova shortly after.

Keep in mind Russia are no easybeats - they finished third in the most recent leg of the World Series in Dubai; a tournament the Australians won.

Emilee Cherry, Emma Tonegato, Charlotte Caslick and Cassie Staples all chipped in with tries against Russia as Australia romped to a 31-0 win to round out a brilliant two days of play.

Earlier in the day, Tonegato scored Australia's most impressive individual try of the tournament with a sensational side-stepping routine that bamboozled a Spanish defender.

She changed direction five times from left to right with the defender back-pedalling before before sprinting towards the line for Australia's fifth and final try of the match.

"It was awesome, incredible footwork by Emma," said Evania Pelite. "We do call her 'The Cobra' so to see that in action was really good. She does school us at training."

This story 182-blot: Australia into Sevens final after another flawless win first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.