Aussie Men's Sevens fall just short in Dubai - but up to third in World Series standings

by Staff Writer

The Qantas Australian Men's side has jumped up into the automatic qualification spots for the Rio Olympics in 2016 after thrilling their way to the Cup Final at the 7evens Stadium in Dubai.

However, Australia will have to wait another year for its first-ever title in Dubai with South Africa claiming the Cup Final after a hard-earned 33-7 win.

Head Coach Geraint John was proud of the performances that have seen Australia move up to third in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series standings.

"For us to get to a Cup Final was a terrific effort. I was a bit disappointed that we allowed Scotland back into the game with a couple of late tries in the Quarter-Final, but we showed an incredible amount of character to beat Fiji. It was a huge result for us and I was particularly delighted with the impact our bench had in that game. Nick [Malouf], Allan [Fa'alava'au] and Greg Jeloudev all played big parts for us from the bench.

"There's no doubt South Africa are a very good side and while I want us to enjoy getting to a Cup Final, it's now important we recover and prepare well again. Samoa got to the Cup Final in the Gold Coast but didn't reach the top eight in Dubai - the competition is so tight and it's crucial we don't drop off in Port Elizabeth next week. We can't allow this result to be a one-off because we all know things can change in an instant in sport."

In the Cup Final, after Australia's Pama Fou was a fingertip away from racing clear, the same player was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle. Within a matter of seconds, South Africa hitman Kwagga Smith eluded the Aussie defence to open the scoring.

However, just seconds after returning to the pitch, Fou levelled on the half-time siren after being sent clear by Cameron Clark.Springbok Philip Snyman capitalised on a rare Australian defensive error to cross over early in the second half. However, the Cup Final turned on a sensational try-saving play from the South African defence when it seemed Sam Myers was going to tie things up once again. The electric Seabelo Senatla scored a quite brilliant individual try to extend the South African advantage, before the same man again touched down in the left hand corner. Ruhan Nel finished the scoring to seal the win for Neil Powell's side.

Earlier in the Cup Semi-Final, Australia completed one of the most astonishing comebacks in Sevens World Series history.

Trailing 19-0 to Series leaders Fiji early on, Nick Malouf crossed over with 30 seconds left in normal time to bring the men in green and gold to within two points of the Fijians. Cameron Clark kicked the conversion to level the scores at 24-24. Clark, Lewis Holland and another from Malouf scored the other five-pointers in normal time.

A period of sustained pressure in sudden-death extra-time saw Cameron Clark set Greg Jeloudev free. The outside back jigged his way past two Fijian defenders to score the crucial try - his 43rd and probably most important to date - and seal the win (29-24).

In the Cup Quarter-Finals Australia saw off the challenge of a fast-finishing Scotland (22-17). Mark Robertson gave the Scots an early lead before Cameron Clark and Pama Fou gave Geraint John's side the lead. Skipper Ed Jenkins powered over on the left and Sam Myers then dotted down. Two late tries from the boys in blue made for a nervy final minute but the Aussies held on to progress.

Elsewhere at the Dubai Sevens, Fiji beat New Zealand in the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off while Argentina finished fifth and claimed the Plate after seeing off Scotland.

The Aussie duo of Ed Jenkins and Cameron Clark were both named in the Dubai Sevens Dream Team of the weekend after a series of strong performances.

The 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series heads west to South Africa and the Port Elizabeth Sevens next week (13-14 December) at the iconic Port Elizabeth Bay Stadium.

Head Coach Geraint John will name the squad he will take to South Africa at midday (AEDT) on Monday.

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results in Dubai, UAE, 5-7 December:

Australia 29-12 Kenya, Pool C

Australia 26-10 United States, Pool C

Australia 12-5 England, Pool C

Australia 22-17 Scotland, Cup Quarter-Finals

Australia 29-24 Fiji, Cup Semi-Finals

Australia 7-33 South Africa, Cup Final

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

Current standings in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series (Top 6): 1. Fiji (39 World Series points), 2. South Africa (37 points) 3. Australia (29 points) 4. New Zealand (28 points) 5. Samoa (27 points) 5. England (27 points)

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