ANALYSIS: Madrid momentum vital for Olympics push as Australians soak up SVNS glory

Mon, Jun 3, 2024, 1:43 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Charlotte Caslick and Maddi Levi combine after the buzzer to even the score in the semi-final of SVNS Madrid

Australia's Women Sevens have laid down their Olympic intentions after a brilliant weekend in Madrid to take out the SVNS title.

Tim Walsh's side took the crown after a tense semi-final win over New Zealand, followed by a second-half surge to take down France.

Catch every game of SVNS World Series LIVE, ad-free and on demand on Stan Sport.

The story of the year for the Australians has been so close, yet so far in big matches, beginning with an emotional Final defeat to Ireland in Perth.

On three occasions, they have been eliminated by their rivals Black Ferns Sevens, twice in the Final in Los Angeles and Singapore.

In those matches, the New Zealanders have been able to build a lead and run away with the game, coming into the Grand Final event as the team to beat.

However, the Aussies took inspiration from their third-place thriller against France in Singapore and stayed calm, finding a way to get the job done.

It's a crucial psychological boost for the side as Charlotte Caslick alluded to after the game, levelling the head-to-head ledger at three-all before the Olympics.

“We always have a ding-dong battle with them so to get some confidence and belief heading into Paris, it’s really important," she noted.

Don't underestimate what the win in the Final over France does for momentum, who keep pushing the top teams hard without their breakthrough trophy.

Australia got a taste of what to expect at Stade de France next month as La Marseillaise bellowed around Metropolitano Stadium, which will be amplified ten-fold come the Olympics.

The French will lift at home for the Olympics so the big game confidence will be crucial if they match up in a potential semi or final.

Maddison Levi was the story of the Final with a hat-trick but what will please coach Walsh is how his other stars stepped up around their flyer and captain Caslick.

The Australians arguably are guilty of force-feeding the ball to Levi at times but in the semi and Final, they worked her into great positions to use her freakish athleticism when the French and Kiwis rushed up on the electric speedster to take away her space.

Tia Hinds has taken on major playmaking responsibility with no Madison Ashby and thrived under pressure.

The conversion will take all the limelight but Hinds' excellent passing game complements Caslick in the middle, allowing the Levis and Faith Nathan amongst others to pierce through the defensive line.

Sariah Paki was also physical in defence and excellent on kickoffs, whilst young guns such as Kaitlin Shave and Bella Nasser are playing crucial roles in big moments.

The defence is a major point of difference, no longer serving as a trigger for setbacks and suspensions.

The Australians were guilty of multiple cards per tournament in the earlier tournaments, leaving them fighting with a hand behind their back in previous events.

In Madrid, it held strong in the Final to shut down France and open the opportunities to attack, ultimately proving the difference to take out the title.

It sets up a blockbuster Olympic campaign, with experienced stars such as Sharni Smale and Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea expected back.

This side has won almost everything in its path since their fifth-place finish in Tokyo, with redemption and medals on their minds.

Madrid's win sets up them perfectly to achieve this, peaking at the right time.

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