Australian Men break title drought at the Sydney7s to cap memorable day
29 January 2018
RUGBY SEVENS: The Qantas Australian Men's Sevens side have broken their HSBC Sevens World Series tournament drought after a 29-nil demolition of reigning Series champions South Africa.
Australia hadn't won a World Series tournament since Tokyo in 2012 but waltzed their way to the 2018 Sydney7s crown following day three victories over New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.
The Men's title capped a remarkable day for Australia following the Women's record-breaking win over New Zealand in their Cup final earlier in the day.
Qantas Australian Men's Sevens coach, Andy Friend said: "We've got quite an aggressive defensive system and throughout the course of the weekend on occasions we haven't believed in it. We showed a couple of clips this morning and just said, 'Listen, do we really believe in this?' and the boys were like, 'Yeah, actually we do'.
"I said, 'well if we believe let's do it.'
"We committed to doing it and honestly from that minute on, it was just a different team.
"We train it but it's one thing doing it at training, and one thing doing it out here and they believed in that and to me that was the difference.
"For them to now turn up and to do that on a World Series and in the process to knock off New Zealand and South Africa in the same tournament must give them belief, and I know it has given them belief," Friend said.
Australia 24 defeated New Zealand 12
New Zealand used field position in the early stages and the ploy worked wonders as the All Blacks Sevens got the first try of the game in the right hand corner. Australia's defensive pressure turned the screws on New Zealand though as they struggled to get of their own 22, giving Australia's Ben O'Donnell the time and space to pounce and level the scores. Andy Friend using his bench to great effect shortly after with Charlie Taylor injected and scoring a try in the right hand corner with his first touch to make the score 12-5 at the break.
New Zealand holding the ball with great success in the second half and levelled scores with four minutes left to play thanks to Vilimoni Koroi. Super sub Maurice Longbottom then throwing the game wide open with a brilliant 40 metre sprint to dive in the corner and regain the lead for Australia. A captain's effort from Lewis Holland then gave Australia a 12 point lead with 30 seconds left to play to book a Cup semi-final berth.
Australia 28 defeated Argentina 0
Australia worked the field position early as a smart quick tap from Tim Anstee sent an Argentine to the sin bin. Lewis Holland making the most of the one man advantage to score under the posts and give the easiest of conversions for James Stannard. Australia kept possession of the ball and it soon paid dividends, with Stannard using the one man overlap to send Ben O'Donnell away to race 60 metres and extend the lead to 14-nil at the break.
Another yellow card to Argentina didn't help their cause in the second half and Holland made them pay as the skipper stepped and sprinted to score under the posts. Australia extending the lead to 28-nil on the stroke of full-time as Ben O'Donnell continued his impressive tournament as he weaved his way through the Argentinean defence to chalk up his fourth five pointer of the weekend.
Australia 29 defeated South Africa 0
A simple mistake from James Stannard gave early possession and territory to South Africa but they couldn't capitalise as Jesse Parahi earned a turnover penalty. Australia couldn't make the most of their field position though with poor handling giving the ball straight back to South Africa. An amazing 90 metre effort from South Africa went to the TMO with Rosko Specman adjudged to have put a foot in touch after an impressive cover tackle from Lachie Anderson. Australia then going the length of the field with skipper Lewis Holland bouncing off tackles to score under the posts. Stannard then putting on a pinpoint kickoff restart for Ben O'Donnell to regather, and pass back to Stannard to race away and make the score 14-nil at half-time.
Australia kept the pressure on South Africa in the second half with Stannard putting the grubber through for John Porch to dive over in the corner. The scoring wasn't done there though as O'Donnell forced his way through the South African defence to take the score to 24-nil with three minutes left to play. O'Donnell grabbed a double shortly after as he burnt speedster Seabelo Senatla on the outside to give Australia an unassailable lead and a memorable tournament win on home soil.