The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team have had a mixed day two at the USA 7s, defeating Fiji for the first time in three years to top Pool D but fell to Samoa in the quarter final leaving the Aussie 7s to battle it out for fifth place.
Australia played brilliantly in the last pool match, scoring four tries to Fiji’s two to ensure a 26-15 victory, but the match came at the cost of captain Lewis Holland who was suspended for three games for a lifting tackle, ruling him out of the remainder of the tournament.
In a tough quarter final, Australia fell by just one point to Samoa (20-21), leaving the Aussie 7s to battle it out for fifth place, to gain maximum series points.
Australia will play in the fifth-place semi-final against England on Monday 4 March at 7.50am AEDT with the match to be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach, Tim Walsh said: “We opened the door to move up the ladder and finish on the podium this weekend and produced some quality performances in our pool matches.
“Sadly, we let another opportunity slip and closed that door on ourselves. We played with fear and waited for something to happen.
“Across the squad we are hurting and bitterly disappointed with ourselves. Tomorrow is a test of character and we will turn up to perform when we take on England.”
Australia 26 defeated Fiji 15
The Aussie 7s opened their account in the opening two minutes against Fiji, Jeral Skelton jotting the ball down to give the men in gold the early advantage. Fiji struck back almost immediately through Jerry Tuwai but were unable to kick the conversion. The first half became a battle ground of territory and possession as the Aussie 7s tested the flying Fijians with consistent pressure. Eventually they were able to convert this into points when in the sixth minute Ben O’Donnell scored to give Australia a 12-5 lead at the break.
Australia shot out of the blocks in the second half, with a try in the 8th minute to make things more difficult for Fiji. Lewis Holland passed to Simon Kennewell on the touch line who danced and charged forward to score in the corner. A special team try will make the highlights reel for years to come for Australia, with the Aussie 7s stealing the ball off Fiji through Jesse Parahi to turn defence into attack. The Aussie 7s passed quickly inside the outside channel to create space for a barnstorming Lewis Holland who cut through Fiji’s defence to score in the far corner and earn Australia their first win over Fiji in three years. The only blight on the match was a suspension to Holland for a dangerous tackle that took him out of the remainder of the tournament.
Australia 20 was defeated by Samoa 21
In howling windy conditions in Las Vegas, Australia started well against Samoa, marching their way patiently up field to put themselves inside Samoa’s red zone. Simon Kennewell made a break on the wing, ably supported by John Porch who gratefully received the offload to give the Aussie 7s a 5-0 lead. Samoa struck back quickly, breaking through the Aussie line to take the lead 5-7. The Samoans continued to attack Australia, with possession and momentum swinging their way, extending their lead with a second try to take the score to 5-14. The Aussie 7s fought hard to get back into the half and a late try to Liam McNamara closed the gap to 10-14.
With the wind now at their backs, the Aussie 7s attacked the second half and were the first to strike. Ben O’Donnell scoring in the corner off a penalty to retake the lead for the men in gold, 15-14. Samoa again struck back immediately, slicing up through the middle of Australia, the perfect offload taking the score to 15-21. Simon Kennewell reminded the crowd of his ability to outmuscle opponents, bashing through three defenders to score in the corner. With a ridiculous wind creating havoc, the conversion was not kicked. The final moments in referee time, Australia attacked Samoa, but were unable to find the points, leaving Samoa to progress to the semi-finals.