The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens side have set-up a Cup quarter-final clash with Kenya after coming second in Pool A at the HSBC Hamilton Sevens.
Australia had three new squad members from the side that won in Sydney last weekend and started the day with a tough 21-5 win over Spain.
Their second clash saw them defeat Wales 26-7 in Waikato before the Fijians got over the top of the Sydney7s champions 26-15 in a game where the lead changed hands multiple times.
The side will now take on Kenya at 11:20am for a spot in the Cup semi-final, after the surprise packets of the tournament topped Pool D with wins over Samoa and Canada and a draw against the USA.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens coach, Andy Friend said: “I thought we got better as the day went on, two wins one loss. The opening game against Spain we were a bit slow to start, we weren’t happy with that but our game against Wales was much much better.”
“The last game against Fiji, I was really proud of the boys, we worked really hard and they had to play some pretty special footy to beat us.”
“I’m really proud that we’re into the quarter-finals, we’ll have a good rest up tonight and come out all guns blazing against Kenya.
“They’re a good side, they’re very, very powerful men and if you let them run they’ll damage you.
“Not surprising to see them there, we’ll have a good look at them tonight, have a good rest and give them our best shot,” Friend said.
Australia 21 defeated Spain 5
The Australians were in control early and pinned Spain in their half before Ben O’Donnell got the first points of the game after some strong work at the breakdown from Tim Anstee resulted in a turnover penalty. O’Donnell then with some strong defensive work of his own, along with Porch muscling Spain over the sideline as Australia looked to go back on the attack. An error shortly after though gave away possession and it was Spain who hit back next, keeping the ball for a number phases before Manuel Sainz finished off an outrageous passage play that included a kick over the top and a no-look flick pass leaving the Australians with a 7-5 lead at half time.
Coach Andy Friend brought on the replacements at the break, introducing Charlie Taylor and Tom Connor for their first minutes. The latter with immediate impact, running into a huge hole to give his side the perfect start to the second half and a 14-5 lead. Maurice Longbottom and Dylan Pietsch found their way onto the field shortly after, with both creating extra energy around the ruck. Lachie Anderson was the next to score, working off an inside ball from Tom Lucas to extend the lead. That saw the introduction of Sam Croke for his debut on the World Series before the full-time whistle ended the game with the final score 21-5 to the Aussies.
Australia 26 defeated Wales 7
It was a tense start to the second game on day one with Wales having early control of possession before a turnover from Tom Connor gave the Aussies their first chance with ball in hand. They weren’t able to capitalise though as Wales found a turnover themselves. The Welsh managing to maintain some solid phases, applying pressure on the Australian line until the defensive line rushed up, forcing a knock-on. Aussie coach Andy Friend brought on livewire Maurice Longbottom on in the final minutes on the first half to try and crack a tiring Welsh outfit but it was to no avail as both sides headed to half time scoreless.
The halftime deadlock lasted all of 90 seconds though with Ben O’Donnell finding his way to the line thanks to a 60-metre effort that also involved a pop pass from the ground from fellow young gun Lachie Anderson. The first try seemingly opened the floodgates as Sam Myers pushed off two defenders and then offloaded to a flying Maurice Longbottom who scored under the black dot for a 14-0 lead. Wales hit back with one of their own moments later but some individual brilliance from the restart from Sam Myers put the Aussies back on the front foot, and allowed Charlie Taylor to get his first try of the tournament. The match eventually sealed by O’Donnell who crossed untouched for a double after finding himself unmarked on the wing to give the Australians a 26-7 win and a perfect start in Hamilton.
Australia 15 defeated by Fiji 26
A fast start from the Fijians saw them take an early lead the match that was to decide the winner of Pool A in Hamilton. A smart offload to Eroni Sau saw the speedster run 70m to score the opener but it didn’t take long for the Australians to hit back through Tim Anstee after some great lead up work from Sam Myers. Anstee then made it two in two minutes, profiting from a break made by young gun Lachie Anderson. But it was the Fijians who went into halftime in front after they went coast to coast to score right on the break to lead 12-10.
Aussie coach Andy Friend didn’t wait long to inject Longbottom just after halftime, the call made an immediate impact, the speedster cutt open the defence before offloading to Lachie Anderson to put the Aussies back in front. The lead lasted all of 30 seconds though before the Fijians crossed after they sprinted away down the sideline to get their third of the game and put the score out to 19-15. The Olympic gold medalists parking themselves on the Australian tryline for the final minutes with Eroni Sau scoring his second right on fulltime to seal the 26-15 win for the Fijians.
Hamilton Sevens day one results
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens
Pool A: Australia 21-5 Spain
Pool A: Australia 26-7 Wales
Pool A: Australia 15-26 Fiji