Youngster Teagan Levi produced her finest performance in a final to inspire Australia’s “Queens of the Desert” to a superb Dubai Sevens triumph over long-time rivals New Zealand.
The 26-19 victory in the final of the SVNS Series opener had enormous significance. It ended a 41-match winning streak by the Kiwis and a five-loss run against Australia’s most traditional rugby sevens rivals.
Such a marker to start the run towards the 2024 Paris Olympics was everything the Australians wanted because the momentum for the success did not come from established stars. It came from two of their rising talents, Teagan Levi and Bienne Terita.
Levi, 20, is the younger sister of superstar winger Maddison Levi, who scored a tournament-record 12th try in the final 90 seconds of the final to provide the winning points. Maddison is pictured running in a try against Ireland in pool play.
Sister Teagan was the star of the final. An excellent cleanout to turnover the ball just before half-time was perhaps the play of the match. The Kiwis led 12-7 at that moment. With the ball back in their hands from that turnover, Levi crossed herself for a try to regain the lead at 14-12 on half-time.
A perfect Levi kick-off to open the second half enabled Australia to regain possession. A powerful, stepping surge from Terita got the Aussies rolling again and Levi crossed for a second try.
Kiwi youngster Jorja Miller showed it was a final for the young stars of rugby sevens when she scored her third try of the final to make it 19-all. The Kiwis had possession for a potential winning score. This time it was Maddi Levi’s turn to force a turnover and she was ultimately on the spot to complete the play with the final try.
Terita had only come into the starting line-up for the final because Australia’s powerful midfield force Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea was out of action because of a red card for a high tackle in the semi-final.
Australia’s 21-14 win over France in the semi-final was every bit as pulsating as the final.
Terita proved her class instantly in the final. The decider had been underway for just 20 seconds when the 20-year-old Terita was scoring the first try after a classy in-and-away shed her midfield opponent.
Australian captain Charlotte Caslick knew the shot of confidence her team would be feeling from a fourth straight Dubai Sevens title.
“Amazing. It was disappointing losing ‘Lys’ (Lefau-Fakaosilea) for the final because she is so important to our team but it shows the depth we’ve been creating. ‘BB’ (Terita) stepped up brilliantly,” Caslick said.
“Teagan is unbelievable. She’s had an amazing pre-season and we’re all getting to see the hard work she has done.”
The Australians dominated in Dubai. They stormed through the pool stages with wins over Brazil (39-0), Japan (66-0) and Ireland (33-5) before advancing through the finals by beating USA (32-5) and France.
Teagan had started the try rush in the opening seconds against Brazil with a sharp cut-out pass to put sister Maddi over for her first try of a successful weekend.
The International Sports Promotion Society (ISPS HANDA) is proudly supporting Australia’s men’s and women’s sevens teams for their Olympic journey after becoming principal partner in October, 2022.
The two-year agreement has also meant an official partnership with Wheelchair Rugby Australia.
Australia’s men’s team finished seventh in Dubai after beating the USA 26-12 in their final game.