The Qantas Australian Men's Sevens team endured a day to forget after failing to qualify from the pool stage at the Tokyo Sevens this afternoon.
Defeats to Portugal (10-12) and Scotland (14-17) were preceded by a win over New Zealand (19-14), denting Australia's ambitions of a top four spot that would secure automatic qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John said: "If we're being really honest, we're extremely disappointed with how we performed today. No disrespect to Portugal or Scotland, but those first two games were our worst of the season. I didn't see those displays coming and if I had have done I would have done something about it.
"Obviously the win over New Zealand was a plus but overall today hasn't helped our cause for that top four spot one bit. We're in a big, big scrap now and we have to turn up tomorrow, get on with it and get as many points as we can. The Bowl competition is going to be very tough with a game first up against Kenya - who showed what they could do earlier today when they played so well against the USA."
Australia slipped to a disappointing defeat to Portugal in the first game of the day at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground. Duarte Moreira scored twice in a first half completely dominated by the Europeans to give them a 12-point lead at the break. Second-half tries from Nick Malouf and Cameron Clark, both of which were unconverted, were not enough as Australia paid the price for an indifferent start.
In game two, Scotland raced into an early lead through tries from Colin Gregor and James Johnstone. The Aussies responded with Nick Malouf reducing the arrears right on the half-time siren before Con Foley levelled it up midway through the second half. However, there was a final twist in the tale as Gregor slotted over a penalty after the full-time whistle to hand the Scots the win.
Australia produced its best performance of the day against New Zealand, defeating their trans-Tasman rivals for the first time since December 2011. The men in green and gold took advantage of Beaudine Waaka's sin-binning with a patient period of play that saw Con Foley benefit from an Ed Jenkins offload to dot down under the posts. Ambrose Curtis struck back for the All Blacks but Greg Jeloudev restored Australia's advantage right on the half-time siren. Joe Webber ran the perfect line from deep to race clear and peg Australia back once more before Cameron Clark scored his second try of the weekend - and the 55th of his Sevens World Series career - to seal a morale-boosting win.
While Australia battles for World Series points in the Bowl Quarter-Final against Kenya, the Cup Quarter-Finals will see New Zealand play Canada, South Africa against Scotland, Fiji play hosts Japan and England face off against France.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results in Tokyo, Japan, 4 April:
Australia 10-12 Portugal, Pool B
Australia 14-17 Scotland, Pool B
Australia 19-14 New Zealand, Pool B
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens fixture in Tokyo, Japan, 5 April:
Australia v Kenya, Bowl Quarter-Final, 11.14am AEST