The Qantas Australian Men's Sevens team has been handed the daunting task of facing series leaders South Africa in tomorrow's Cup Quarter-Finals in Hong Kong.
A late loss to New Zealand (5-14) on Day Two at the Hong Kong Sevens was preceded by victory over a gallant Scotland (21-5) as Australia maintained its record of qualifying for every Cup Quarter-Final so far in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Qantas Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John said: "I thought we played well against Scotland and were clinical when we had to be. Against New Zealand, while I am obviously disappointed with the result, I thought we were defensively outstanding and every single player wearing a gold jersey on the field played their part. I felt one or two decisions, including the yellow card against us, didn't go our way which was unfortunate.
"We're all looking forward to the game against South Africa. It's going to be a physical onslaught, no doubt about that. But if we turn in a similar defensive performance like the one we did against New Zealand and show good ball control, then I'm sure it will be an outstanding contest and a quality game."
Australia booked its spot in the Cup Quarter-Finals after a controlled performance against Scotland - most notable for the Aussies' display without the ball. Pama Fou finished off a bustling break from Nick Malouf to open the scoring in the opening minute before a spell of sustained possession eventually saw Con Foley spot a gap in the Scottish defence to push the lead out to 14 points. Malouf, impressive in both defence and attack, capped an exceptional performance with his 10th try of the season midway through the second period. Russell Weir had the last say for Scotland when he scored after a break down the left but it proved no more than a consolation.
New Zealand consigned Australia to the runners-up spot in Pool B by defeating the men in gold at a rocking Hong Kong Stadium. Shannon Walker was sin-binned for a high tackle midway through the first stanza and Rieko Ioane capitalised to touch down on the left to give the Kiwis a seven point lead at the break. New Zealand's sheer weight of possession early in the second period told once more as Ioane scored in the left corner. A fine break from Shannon Walker with two minutes left on the clock followed by a period of pressure ended with Jesse Parahi crossing over to give the Aussies late hope, but it was not to be.
Winger Pama Fou was rested as a precautionary measure for the game against New Zealand after sustaining an ankle injury but should be fit for Day Three.
In the other Cup Quarter-Finals in Hong Kong, New Zealand take on Argentina, Fiji play England while the USA face off against a resurgent Samoa. All of the action from Hong Kong will be LIVE on FOX SPORTS.
Australia currently sit fourth in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series with three tournaments remaining after the Hong Kong Sevens. Only the top four countries at the end of the season - along with host nation Brazil - qualify automatically for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results in Hong Kong, 27-28 March:
Australia 33-5 Portugal, Pool B
Australia 21-5 Scotland, Pool B
Australia 5-14 New Zealand, Pool B
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens fixture in Hong Kong, 29 March:
Australia v South Africa, Cup Quarter-Final, 2.20pm AEDT