Hosts USA put on three displays to relish in front of their home fans on day one of this weekend’s World Series tournament in Houston.
Facing their nearest rivals Canada in the opening game, the USA went behind early but hit back with a great try from skipper Vanesha McGee which saw her sprint 70 metres to score.
Canada took a 12-7 lead into the break but the home side came into their own as the second half wore on and grabbed a deserved equaliser right with the clock in red, through Kelly Griffin.Next up for the USA was another cracker of a game against South Africa. USA took a 17-0 lead and looked home and dry but South Africa had other ideas and raced back with three fast tries to lead 19-17 with just seconds left.
USA’s never say die attitude paid off as Kelly Griffin skipped past a few defenders to score on the fulltime whistle and to send the crowd into raptures. USA ended the day with a big win over Argentina and went through to the quarter-finals in style as pool-toppers.
Elsewhere Australia had a strong day with three wins from their three games. Australia had no problems dispatching Brazil and Japan but their final clash against Russia was a predictably tough affair. They were made to work all the way to a 15-10 win with captain Sharni Williams showing all of her leadership skills to shine alongside the likes of Tricia Brown.
Russia performed well throughout the day with Baizat Khamidova and Nadezda Yarmotskaya in flying form. Japan recorded one win over Brazil, with the South Americans looking for their first win tomorrow.
England’s win over New Zealand was the highlight of this pool. England started well with a hard fought win over Netherlands and then a more straightforward victory over Trinidad and Tobago, but it was their final clash with New Zealand that the crowd was waiting for, and neither side disappointed.
It was an end to end affair with England taking a 7-0 lead through Natasha Hunt. New Zealand finally broke through a stern England rear-guard but it was too little too late as England saw the game out 7-5 and finished top of the pool.
In the same pool Netherlands had to wait until their final game of the day to record their first win with a comfortable victory over Trinidad & Tobago. The underdog Trinidad & Tobago team were a crowd favourite throughout the day and their first score late in that game drew the biggest cheers of the evening.