Australia falter in plate final to finish sixth at Wellington Sevens

by Staff Writer

The Qantas Australian Men's Sevens team has finished its Wellington campaign in sixth place after defeats to hosts New Zealand and Fiji on Day Two at Westpac Stadium today.

Australian Head Coach Geraint John was disappointed his side didn't execute the basics against the All Blacks and the Fijians though immediately set his sights on next week's tournament in Las Vegas: "I thought we played reasonably well against Kenya but we made far too many errors in the games against New Zealand and Fiji. Errors you can't make at this level.

"We made some early mistakes against New Zealand and were punished, and even when we created some excellent opportunities in the second half I felt we lost a little composure. In the final game against Fiji we made what I would call uncharacteristic errors. The game was physical, sure, but that's the nature of Sevens.

"Now we have to get up and go and prepare ourselves for Las Vegas next weekend. We know what we have to do and good players perform week in, week out. The players have their medicals tomorrow and we will finalise our squad from there. We're all looking forward to the challenge that the Las Vegas Sevens will bring."

In the Cup Quarter-Final, the Aussies paid for a slow start as New Zealand raced out into a lead they would not relinquish after early tries from Gillies Kaka, Sam Dickson and Joe Webber. Cameron Clark reduced the arrears on the stroke of half-time but despite the best efforts of Lewis Holland and Pama Fou - both of whom went within inches of cutting the deficit further - Kaka sealed the win (26-7) after touching down in the right corner late on.

Greg Jeloudev opened the scoring for Australia in the first half of the Plate Semi-Final over a much-improved Kenyan side. Michael Wanjala gave the African outift hope when he dotted down towards the end of a scrappy opening seven minutes. However, Australia controlled the vast majority of the second period and their professional performance was rewarded when tries from James Stannard and Sam Myers secured an important win (21-5).

Despite a bright start from Australia to the Plate Final against Fiji, the islanders ultimately proved too strong. Captain Ed Jenkins had a try chalked off midway through a tight first half after the match officials ruled that the line-out had not been formed. Osea Kolinisau, Sitiveni Waqa, Semi Kunatani and Samisoni Viriviri subsequently all scored without reply to give Ben Ryan's side their second win against the Aussies over the weekend.

Elsewhere at the Wellington Sevens, New Zealand overcame England in the Cup Final to leapfrog Fiji into second place in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series standings. Series leaders South Africa, meanwhile, came third after seeing off Scotland in the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off match.

Australia remain fourth in the standings on 58 points but now have England on their coat-tails just two points behind them after their Cup Final appearance in Wellington. The top four at the end of the season in May will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The next round of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series heads to Las Vegas in the USA next weekend (13-15 February) with all the action broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results in Wellington, New Zealand, 6-7 February:

Australia 36-5 Wales, Pool C

Australia 29-0 Portugal, Pool C

Australia 5-14 Fiji, Pool C

Australia 7-26 New Zealand, Cup Quarter-Final

Australia 21-5 Kenya, Plate Semi-Final

Australia 0-24 Fiji, Plate Final

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

Current standings in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series after four rounds (Top 6): 1. South Africa (76 World Series points), 2. New Zealand (69 points), 3. Fiji (64 points), 4. Australia (58 points), 5. England (56 points) 6. Argentina (47 points)

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