The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team have made their first Cup Final in London since 2015, falling to Fiji to take the silver medal.
Australia had a near perfect day two, defeating South Africa (29-22) and France (31-24) in the quarter finals and semi-final, to meet the HSBC London 7s defending champions Fiji, where Australia fell short (7-43).
The re-energised Aussie outfit played in the consistent fashion that had been threatening all season but were outclassed in the final by Fiji.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said: “Fiji were a class act in that final, showing again once they get momentum they are hard to stop and thoroughly deserve their victory here in London.
“We were really pleased to make the final but it showed that you must respect possession against top sides like Fiji or they will punish you.
“Our defence worked hard in the match, but to be winning those Cup Finals you have to be consistently asking questions will ball in hand, not just in defence.
“Having said that I am very proud of this side’s efforts this weekend to make the Cup Final. We have finally showed some of the potential we have seen flashes of across two days of Rugby and that now needs to be the standard of things to come moving forward.
“Maurice Longbottom was a class act all weekend and took his game to a new level in attack and defence. Lewis Holland’s leadership was crucial to this side’s success and it showed with how the wider group responded when we needed to show some character.
“Henry Hutchison and Josh Coward hit the line constantly at speed and they created opportunities around them with the way they threw themselves into each match.
“We’ll take some valuable lessons out of London and use that to get ready for Paris and the qualification battle to come later in the year.”
Australia will now head to the HSBC Paris Sevens for the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series next weekend.
Australia currently sits in sixth position on 99 points, surpassing Samoa on 95 points.
Australia 29 defeated South Africa 22
The Aussie 7s started well against South Africa, winning the ball of the restart and putting over Henry Hutchison over the corner to take a 7-0 lead. Australia went back to back quickly through Joe Pincus as the men in gold dominated the physical contest against South Africa (14-0). South Africa countered quickly with back to back tries as they worked their way back into the match, but Australia would have the final say in the match through Matt Hood to re-take the lead 19-12 at the break.
The second half saw Australia continue their good form with a clinical back line try allowing Henry Hutchison to score in the corner. Everything the Aussies touched turned to gold with Australia scoring their fifth try through Ben O’Donnell to move the score to 29. Two late tries to South Africa brought the gap down but it was the defence of Australia that stood strong; a tackle from Maurice Longbottom forcing a knock on over the line.
Australia 31 defeated France 24
The Aussie 7s started the semi final in perfect fashion, scoring off the kick off to take a 5-0 lead. France struck back out wide to level, 5-5. Henry Hutchison scored Australia’s second, darting and weaving through the defence to score underneath the posts. The men in gold continued to ask questions of France’s defence, with Simon Kennewell scoring out wide as Australia extended the lead to 17-5. The Aussie 7s weren’t done before the break, Maurice Longbottom carving through France’s defence to advance the lead to 24-5.
The second half saw a fired up French outfit fire back, scoring quickly next to the posts to rein in the score to (24-12). France went back to back with a try underneath the posts to make the score 24-17 with just over two minutes left to play. With the pressure mounting, France launched a strong attack inside Australia’s 22. A turn over from Josh Coward allowed the Aussies to get out of danger, with both teams exchanging tries before the end. Australia wining the match 31-24 and moving to their first final in London since 2015.
Australia 7 was defeated by Fiji 43
It was the defending London Champions, Fiji who scored first in the match, breaking through the line after a strong period of Australian defence. Fiji were able to regather the ball off the re-start and again, played the Fijian style to push passes but create space that led to Fiji’s second try, 0-12. Australia hammered the Fijian line, but the defending champions forced the error to score underneath the posts. A final try before the break, with some typical Fijian flair saw the score move to 0-24 at the break.
The Aussies were the first to strike in the second half, Ben O’Donnell breaking through the line to create space for Joe Pincus who score underneath the posts to give some hope of an Aussie fightback. Fiji scored their fifth try of the match of an Australian lineout, taking the game beyond doubt. Late tries by Fiji sealed their victory and ensured Australia took the silver medal.