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Great Britain's women off to perfect start in Rio 2016 rugby sevens

Published 06/08/2016

Great Britain's Natasha Hunt, who scored two tries, in action against Brazil at Deodoro Stadium
Great Britain's Natasha Hunt, who scored two tries, in action against Brazil at Deodoro Stadium

Great Britain's women launched their Olympic rugby sevens challenge with two pool victories on the opening day of action at Deodoro Stadium.

Emily Scarratt's team followed up an opening 29-3 victory over host nation Brazil by crushing Japan 40-0 thanks to touchdowns from Amy Wilson Hardy, Alice Richardson, Joanne Watmore, Katy McLean, Emily Scott and Heather Fisher.

They also did not concede a try in either game, setting themselves up for Sunday's Pool C decider against Canada.

Scarratt said: " It was a shaky start, but we know sevens tournaments are not decided on the first day, and we've got two good wins under our belt.

"The second performance was really pleasing.

"We really pride ourselves on our defence, if you don't let other teams score tries, it is generally a lot easier to win games.

"Canada will be a step up tomorrow. They finished third in the World Series this year, and we know we will have to be right on our mettle, but we will recover and prepare properly."

While the Japan game was a stroll - they earlier lost 45-0 against Canada - Britain led only 7-3 at the break after Brazil, inspired by their talisman Paula Ishibashi, dominated territory and threatened a possible upset.

But Britain settled after half-time and ran out comfortable winners on the back of two Natasha Hunt tries, plus touchdowns from Watmore, Scott and Jasmine Joyce, with McLean kicking two conversions.

Boos rang out from a vociferous home crowd each time a British player touched the ball early on, but they responded well and ultimately eased home as rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in temperatures of 30 degrees.

"We always knew the hosts were going to come out and perform like they did, but we weathered the storm, had a cracking second half and got the win," Great Britain player and England World Cup winner Danielle Waterman added.

"The atmosphere is cracking. It was pretty warm, but we have been out here for a while, so we are used to it.

"This tournament is a massive moment for women's rugby, being at the Olympic Games, and we are really honoured to be flying the flag."

Spain's Patricia Garcia kicked off the tournament on a sweltering morning, while the first try was scored by France's Camille Grassineau as Les Bleus coasted to a 24-7 Pool B victory.

New Zealand, meanwhile, wasted little time announcing their medal credentials as they powered past Kenya despite having their captain Sarah Goss and Ruby Tui both sin-binned during the first half.

Even with six players, though, the Kiwis were way too strong as early tries by Portia Woodman, Kayla McAlister and Huriana Manuel set them off and running, and the Kenyans hardly got a look-in as they finished on the receiving end of a 52-0 defeat, with Woodman scoring a hat-trick.

New Zealand followed up that win by by brushing aside Spain 31-5, and Australia barely broke sweat in swamping tournament minnows Colombia 55-0.

Australia and New Zealand remain strong favourites to contest Monday's final, but Britain are off and running in their initial quest of making Sunday's quarter-finals.

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