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Olympics-Rugby-Lightning halts Tokyo Sevens morning session

The morning session in the women's Olympic Rugby Sevens could not be completed on Friday after lightning over the Tokyo Stadium delayed the final match between New Zealand and the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

TOKYO: The morning session in the women's Olympic Rugby Sevens could not be completed on Friday after lightning over the Tokyo Stadium delayed the final match between New Zealand and the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The fixture was scheduled to start at 11.30am local time (02.30 GMT), but was delayed indefinitely amid stormy skies over the Japanese capital because of safety concerns for the players. A decision on when to restart will be taken at 1:00pm Tokyo time.

Five of the six matches in the morning session on the second day of the women's event were completed before the delay, with the United States claiming a surprise 14-12 victory over fancied Australia to take top spot in Pool C.

That leaves Australia, the defending champions, on course for a collision with Fiji in the quarter-finals.

Fixtures in that round cannot be finalised, however, until the clash between New Zealand and the ROC is completed, though surprise package China have already sealed their spot, with a 29-0 thumping of Japan in Pool C continuing their excellent showing in the competition.

"Before these Olympics, rugby was not a popular sport in China, but now our major media are broadcasting it. I think it will have a great impact on the rugby in the country," China’s Keyi Chen said.

The United States did their bit to boost the surprise element of the tournament on Friday in rallying from 12-0 down to defeat pre-tournament favourites Australia, who looked to be coasting after tries from co-captain Sharni Williams and Demi Hayes.

But the U.S. squad showed grit and no little skill as they dominated the second period, scoring converted tries through Abby Gustaitis and Cheta Emba.

"We went two tries down but we didn't give up. We kept fighting and got the result," U.S. co-captain Kris Thomas said. "The more that we can be successful, the more eyes we will have on our game (back home)."

Australia's path to retaining their gold medal has become more complicated. They now face a side from Fiji - home of the men's Sevens gold medallists - that is getting better with each game and was ruthless in dismantling Brazil 41-5, scoring seven tries, including four from Reapi Ulunisau.

"I'm confident (for the afternoon session), because I have the girls working with me," Fiji's Alowesi Nakoci said. "We've been working together for a long time, and we've been listening to what our coach says."

Should Australia advance they could face New Zealand in the semi-finals, a repeat of the 2016 gold medal match.

(Reporting by Mayu Sakoda; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

Source: Reuters

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