Aussie Sevens claim third straight title
7 November 2017
RUGBY SEVENS: The Australian Men's Sevens have claimed their third straight preseason title, coming from behind to beat USA 15-12 in the final of the Silicon Valley Sevens.
Maurice Longbottom was the hat trick hero in the 27-0 semi-final win over Chile and he scored the match winner against the home nation, after the crowd favourites shot out to an early 12-0 lead.
Longbottom stole the show late but it was an Ed Jenkins double that kept the Australians in the contest, scoring on the half time siren to ensure the Aussies had points on the board going into the break.
Returning skipper Lewi Holland set up both of Jenkins' tries, the first cutout a beautiful bullet ball that hit Jenkins on the chest and created the space for his first five pointer.
The second was the result of some smart support work from Holland, Simon Kennewell popping the ball from the floor after a determined run up the middle of the ground two minutes into the second term.
That left the score poised at 12-10 in the home side's favour with four to play and with two minutes left on the clock, turnover ball found the hands of Longbottom and the star rookie displayed his trademark speed to sprint the length of the field and score what would prove to be the winner.
The US stretched the Australians with the game on the line but a counter ruck won the ball back for Kennewell to boot into touch, securing the Aussies' third straight title.
Kennewell was one of Australia's best in the final, putting in repeat efforts with ball in hand to get his side on the front foot and both Lachie Anderson and Holland were also putting in the hard yards for the entire 14 minutes.
But the final belonged to Jenkins and Longbottom, who scored the 15 points that secured the win and had coach Andy Friend a very happy man when he spoke to RUGBY.com.au post match.
"It was really pleasing - we were down to eight or nine guys at the end there so to tough it out and win like we did was really good to see," Friend said.
"It wasn't a World Series - we did want to win but we didn't want to take any risks so Ben O'Donnell (quad soreness), Sam Meyers (hamstring soreness) and Tom Lucas (shoulder soreness) were all kept out of that final.
"Then we had Charlie Taylor dealing with a hernia all week but he came on and played in the final and he's been really tough for us all week.
"Lewi has been out since Rio and EJ has been struggling with injuries so I was really pleased for those guys to see them play the way they did in the final.
"They played well but the young guys are stepping up every game now and that's exactly what we want to see."
Earlier in the day it was again the Longbottom show, the flying rookie scoring a hat trick in a comfortable semi-final 27-0 win over Chile.
"He's a really special footballer," Friend said.
"He creates a mountain of opportunities for us and defensively he can hurt the opposition in so many ways.
"He can score from anywhere on the field because he's so good on his feet and he's been fantastic for us."
That was proceeded by a huge 40-7 win in the quarter final against a New Zealand outfit missing a host of stars.