England were the surprise package on day one of the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on Thursday, beating defending series and Dubai champions Australia and Glendale runners-up USA to finish top of a pool for the first time since the final round of the 2015-16 series.
Their reward is a rematch with Australia in the Cup quarter-finals after the Olympic champions lost 22-17 to USA in their final Pool B thanks to a last-gasp try by Cheta Emba.
New Zealand, the winners of the opening round in Glendale last month, and Canada were the other sides to go unbeaten on day one at The Sevens Stadium to top Pool A and C respectively.
The Black Ferns Sevens will face Russia in the first quarter-final at 09:00 local time (GMT+4) on Friday after they secured the remaining place with a hard-fought 19-0 win over invitational side Kenya in their final Pool C match. New Zealand won their day one encounter 29-12.
Canada, like their North American rivals, also needed a last-gasp try to win their last pool match, Charity Williams bursting through the defence with 30 seconds to go to break the deadlock and secure a 21-14 win against France, the side they faced in the bronze final in round one.
In the Challenge Trophy, Fiji will face China in the first semi-final before Kenya tackle Spain in the other.
DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS
A brace of tries from HSBC Player of the Final Tyla Nathan-Wong secured a fourth title in seven years for New Zealand at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens 2018 on Friday.
New Zealand had to work hard for their 26-14 victory over Canada, who were playing in their first Cup final at 7he Sevens Stadium in series history, but have now won their last 30 matches on the series and 39 in a row in global competitions.
The Black Ferns Sevens' fifth tournament title in a row on the series means they have increased their lead in the standings to six points over Canada (34) with USA third on 32 and defending series champions Australia now fourth on 28 points after winning the bronze medal in Dubai.
Theresa Fitzpatrick opened the scoring in the final after coasting through a hole in the Canadian defence, before a quick tap penalty by Ghislaine Landry saw her go over under the posts to give herself an easy conversion for a 7-5 lead. Canada elected to play on after the half-time hooter sounded and paid the price when the ball was turned over and Nathan-Wong put in a burst of speed to race away for a 12-7 lead at the break.
Gayle Broughton then increased that lead only for Canada, bidding for their first Cup title since Sydney in 2017, to hit back almost immediately through a long run-in by Julia Greenshields. Canada, though, then lost Bianca Farella to the sin-bin for a high tackle and in her absence Fitzpatrick sold a dummy before releasing Nathan-Wong for her second try.
Australia Secure Bronze
Australia had lost two matches to last-gasp tries in Dubai this year, but finally came out on top in a nail-biting encounter after Lily Dick scored with time up on the clock to secure a 26-21 victory over the Women's Sevens Eagles to claim the bronze medal.
USA, who had beaten Australia at the death on day one, had led 21-14 through an Alev Kelter double and Naya Tapper try with Evania Pelite and Charlotte Caslick touching down for the Olympic champions. Caslick crossed again to tie the scores before Dick scored the match-winner.
Russia finish fifth
Elena Zdrokova's try proved the difference in a tight fifth place play-off as Russia triumphed 12-7 over England. Baizat Khamidova had given the Russians the lead only for Ellie Kildunne to draw England level, before Zdrokova's match-winning effort in the 10th minute.
The seventh place play-off was in the balance until two tries in the last three minutes through Carla Neisen and Anne Cecile Ciofani secured France a 17-5 victory over Ireland who were unable to reproduce their impressive form of day one in the knockout stages.
China win challenge trophy
China secured their first trophy on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series after a 12-7 defeat of Spain in sudden-death extra-time in the Challenge Trophy final. Liu Xiaoquin had given China the lead in the first-half, but Spain kept plugging away and were finally rewarded when Beatriz Dominguez Sanchez finished off a move in the 13th minute.
Neither side could find a winner so the match went to extra-time and with Spain without their captain Barbara Pla after a second yellow it was China who triumphed, releasing Hu Yu to race 50 metres to score the winning try.