Aussies step up to the Plate in Tokyo
23 March 2014
RUGBY SEVENS: Stand-in skipper Con Foley praised his side as the Australia Men’s Sevens team bounced back from earlier defeat to New Zealand to claim the Plate trophy in the sixth leg of the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo.
“We just had to be patient in that Plate Final and then our attack would take care of itself. We did that pretty well in the second half against the Americans and reaped the rewards.
“We’ve been pretty happy with our attack over the weekend, but in defensive areas there are a few things we need to fix up. There were a few lapses against England yesterday and New Zealand today but overall we’re going in the right direction,” added Foley.
In the Plate Final against a brave United States team, Greg Jeloudev scored his eighth try of the weekend to give the Aussies an early lead before Danny Barrett took advantage of a wayward line-out to touch down under the posts. Sunnybank’s Tom Lucas and Con Foley scored to give Australia a lead they would not relinquish despite a late try from US captain Zac Test with the last play of the game.
Michael O’Connor’s side recorded its biggest ever win in an IRB Series event over Kenya when they turned in a scintillating performance in the Plate Semi-Final. Nick Malouf and Greg Jeloudev gave the Aussies a healthy half-time lead before Cameron Clark pulled off one of the defensive plays of the weekend to deny Oscar Ouma the chance to bring the Kenyans back into the game in the first minute of the second period.
Both Afa Pakalani and Alex Gibbon scored their first tries in the IRB World Series and a Sam Myers double in the final minute saw Australia seal a 36-0 win and progress into the Plate Final.
Head Coach Michael O’Connor believes the Men’s Sevens team are getting better all the time as his team continues to mature.
“We obviously want to be in the top four, but we’re getting there and we’re showing definite signs of improvement. Against New Zealand, we weren’t far away.
“Our average age is only 22, but I’ve been with this group for a couple of years and if we can keep this group together then they will be very, very good. The team has some very exciting times ahead of them.”
Australia earlier dropped out of the Cup competition after defeat to New Zealand (21-12). Late, long-range tries from the impressive Cameron Clark and Tom Lucas were not enough to rescue the game after Ben Lam’s double and Sherwin Stowers had given the All Black’s a 21-point lead early in the second half.
Australia (72 points) stay fifth in the 2013/14 HSBC Sevens World Series standings after securing 13 competition points for the second tournament in succession. South Africa (116) have taken over at the top of the ladder despite losing an emotional Cup Final to Fiji 33-26. New Zealand (114) drop to second after losing the 3rd/4th place play-off against England, who stay fourth (85).
The HSBC Sevens World Series next heads south to the 40,000 Hong Kong Stadium in Hong Kong (28-30 March).
Captain Ed Jenkins will miss Australia’s opening game in Hong Kong as he serves the third game of a suspension after being cited for a tackle on Tim Mikkelson of New Zealand.
Australian Men’s Sevens results in Tokyo, 22-23 March 2014:
Australia 28-7 Spain, Pool D
Australia 26-19 Scotland, Pool D
Australia 21-24 England, Pool D
Australia 12-21 New Zealand, Cup Quarter-Final
Australia 36–0 Kenya, Plate Semi-Final
Australia 17–12 United States, Plate Final