Australia step up to the plate to take fifth at Las Vegas Sevens

by Staff Writer

Qantas Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John has lauded the attitude of his players after wins over Canada and England this morning secured the Plate in Las Vegas.

The fifth-place finish extends Australia's advantage over the English to three points in the race for automatic qualification to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Geraint John said: "After the disappointment against New Zealand in the Cup Quarter-Finals, I thought we played very well today. Sometimes you play six games and lose just the one and most weekends you find yourselves in the Cup Semi's or Finals.

"To beat a side of England's calibre - a team competing with us for one of those top four spots - will gives us good confidence and a lot to take from the weekend.

"I have to tip my hat to the players for their attitude. Jesse [Parahi] was nowhere near fully fit today but insisted he wear team kit in case of an emergency while Cameron [Clark] was up most of last night with illness. We have players who are prepared to step onto the field whatever their own personal circumstances and that is a great credit to them.

"The likes of Greg Jeloudev, Sammy Myers and Allan Fa'alava'au played a few more minutes today and their performances are a testament to the depth we have in the squad at the moment. I thought Allan did well and added a spark to us and I'm going to have a difficult decision to make when it comes to selecting the 12 players that we will take to Hong Kong."

In the Plate Final against England, a near-perfect first half against quality opposition saw the Aussies race into a 21-point lead in the first five minutes. Skipper Ed Jenkins fended off the challenges of two English defenders to power over early on. A neat offload from the lively Allan Fa'alava'au set Lewis Holland free to touch down and extend the advantage. After another patient period of play, Con Foley dissected a gap in the opposition defence to score under the posts. Charlie Hayter finished off a fine English move just before the break and Tom Mitchell scored early in the second half to reduce the arrears but Australia did enough to hold and claim the win (21-14).

Earlier, Australia qualified for the Plate Final after seeing off the challenge of Canada (17-0). Cameron Clark exploited a gap on the Canadian right edge to touch down after 90 seconds before Allan Fa'alava'au burst through to give the Aussies a 10-point lead. Nick Malouf added a third score after the half-time siren to give Geraint John's side a lead they would not relinquish in a scoreless second period.

Elsewhere at the Las Vegas Sevens, Fiji won their second tournament of the season after defeating New Zealand in the Cup Final at the Sam Boyd Stadium while South Africa proved too strong for hosts USA in the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off.

South Africa still lead the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series with 93 points, five points clear of New Zealand with Fiji a further two points back. Australia sit fourth on 71 points, three points clear of England.

After back-to-back tournaments in Wellington and Las Vegas, the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series takes a six-week break before hitting the iconic Hong Kong Sevens on 27-29 March.

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results in Las Vegas, USA, 14-16 February:

Australia 45-0 Brazil, Pool D

Australia 31-14 France, Pool D

Australia 40-14 Scotland, Pool D

Australia 7-28 New Zealand, Cup Quarter-Final

Australia 17-0 Canada, Plate Semi-Final

Australia 21-14 England, Plate Final

Final placings for the Las Vegas Sevens (Top 6): 1. Fiji (22 World Series points), 2. New Zealand (19 points), 3. South Africa (17 points), 4. USA (15 points), 5. Australia (13 points), 6. England (12 points)

Current standings in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series after five rounds (Top 6): 1. South Africa (93 World Series points), 2. New Zealand (88 points), 3. Fiji (86 points), 4. Australia (71 points), 5. England (68 points) 6. Argentina (54 points)

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