Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John praised the desire of his side after overcoming Semi-Final disappointment to demolish Samoa in the Bronze Medal match at the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Australia beat the Samoans 24-0 after losing to New Zealand in the Semi-Finals (7-19). Earlier, the Aussies recovered from a forgettable first half to dramatically overturn a 19-point deficit and beat Wales in the Quarter-Finals.
Geraint John, in his first tournament in charge of the Men’s Sevens team, said: “It’s been a really positive weekend. We were clinical in our games yesterday, showed power and precision to beat England and then showed that no cause is ever lost against Wales. We were up against it in that game, and although both teams were out on their feet, we found a way to win.
“The New Zealand game was disappointing for sure, but to come back and beat Samoa with a short turnaround was a huge effort. I have told the boys, however, that we can’t just brush the game against New Zealand under the carpet. There are certain aspects of our game we need to improve and we will do that. We have a young group of players who are keen to learn and better themselves.
“The whole team has embraced the Commonwealth Games event, being a part of a bigger team with the nation watching on. They’ve handled themselves so well. We’ve taken in one or two events around the Games and I particularly enjoyed seeing the team receive their jerseys from a sporting legend like Ian Thorpe. He told us to believe in ourselves and I think we took that on board.
“We have a short break now, with the team that travelled to Glasgow on leave until 13 August. They’ll need this time to refresh both physically and mentally before we have an intense eight-week preparation ahead of the Gold Coast Sevens – the opening round of the Olympic qualification period. We’re counting on the support of our fans in the Gold Coast as the competition is so tough.”
After soaking up some early pressure from a feisty Samoan outfit, Greg Jeloudev utilised his devastating pace on the right twice to give Australia a 10-point lead at the break that they would not relinquish. Brutal work up front from Sean McMahon laid the platform for Liam Gill to cross over in the second half before a break from Con Foley set Sam Myers free to seal a deserved Bronze Medal for John's men.
New Zealand underlined its status as one of the world's best Sevens' outfits when they saw off the challenge of the Aussies in the Semi-Finals. The sides were locked at 7 points apiece at the break after scores from Kiwi flyer Tim Mikkelson and then Sean McMahon right on the siren after a lovely ball from Jesse Parahi. But a double from Sean Curry ended Australia’s hopes of a first Commonwealth Games Gold Medal.
Australia progressed to the Medal matches after conjuring a stunning comeback against Wales. Will Harries, Lee Williams and Luke Morgan all scored tries in the first half to give the Aussies a mountain to climb. However, skipper Ed Jenkins picked a gap in the opposing defence to reduce the arrears right on the half-time siren and give his side hope. Melbourne Rebels forward Sean McMahon powered over with two minutes left but all looked lost when Wales created a three-on-one opportunity out wide in the final minute only for James Stannard to pull off a miraculous last-ditch tackle.
With the full-time siren blown, fine work at the breakdown saw Liam Gill somehow reclaim possession and Australia broke 100m to create one last assault on the Welsh try-line. A succession of penalties eventually told with Pama Fou crossing to break Welsh hearts. Cameron Clark duly converted to seal a memorable 21-19 win.
The Bronze Medal secured is the third medal that the Australian Rugby Sevens team has won since the sport's inception at the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Australia won a Bronze in Kuala Lumpur 16 years ago before winning a silver at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.
In the Gold Medal match, South Africa broke New Zealand's stranglehold on the Commonwealth Games, upsetting the All Blacks 17-12 and consigning the Kiwis to their first-ever defeat at this event – a run of 30 consecutive matches.
Australian Men’s Sevens results at XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on 26-28 July:
Australia 62-7 Sri Lanka, Pool D
Australia 43-5 Uganda, Pool D
Australia 15-7 England, Pool D
Australia 21-19 Wales, Medal Cup Quarter-Final
Australia 7-19 New Zealand, Medal Cup Semi-Final
Australia 24-0 Samoa, Bronze Medal Match