Aussies to face Fiji in Vancouver quarter finals

by Jill Scanlon

Australia will play Fiji in the Cup quarter-finals at the HSBC World Series tournament in Vancouver, Canada after a mixed bag of results on Day One.

A major loss to the USA in their final pool match took the gloss off the two earlier victories against France and Japan.

Coach Andy Friend was disappointed with some aspects of the Aussies’ performance on the first day in Vancouver.

The disappointing thing of today was that we let every team score first, so we need to have a look at the way we’re starting,” he said.

But the silver lining is the continual talent and impressive performances which are coming to the fore from his young recruits.

“Liam (McNamara) is a real talent and I thought he did amazingly well off the bench,” said Friend.

“Again the young blokes are the ones leading the way for us. I’m pleased for those young fellas but just really disappointed with how we finished the day against USA.”

Argentina stood out in Pool play on Day One with a win over Rio Olympics gold medallists Fiji, their first over the Fijians since 2012.

The Argentinians scored a try at the death and kicker Javier Rojas took the conversion shot next to the touch line and lobbed it over the bar, much to the delight of his team-mates.


The two-point win over the Fijians secured a berth in the quarter-finals bumping Wales to third place in Pool B on points difference.

Wales had earlier kept its finals hopes alive by defeating Samoa 21-19 in a come-from-behind thriller, scoring all its points in the second half. But it needed Fiji to win to secure a top eight finish of its own.

South Africa was also pushed by England with a 12-12 draw in their final Pool A game.

The Series leaders finished top of the group.

Canada played New Zealand in the final game of the day with both teams undefeated from their first two matches.

The winner would top the pool and play England in the quarter finals - more importantly avoiding a match-up against the Blitzboks.

As if scripted for the home crowd, the game was a thriller to the final seconds, but the Kiwis held on for a one-point victory.

Australia has met the challenge of playing the Olympic champions recently and the prospect does not faze Andy Friend.

"They (Fiji) are definitely beatable, we know that. We challenged them in Vegas last week and ran them close, but let in a couple of easy tries.” - Andy Friend.

“We will definitely have to lift our performance based on that last game (today) against USA though.”

Each game is a learning curve for this young team but the older more experienced heads on the field, combined with the youthful enthusiasm and raw talent of the new recruits, should not be underestimated by any opposition.

"It’s a mentally tough tournament, Week Two on an artificial surface,” said Friend.

“The team that turns up mentally prepared to put their body on the line will win this one.”

RESULTS

HSBC Sevens World Series, Canada, Day One:

Australia 12-7 France

Australia 36-7 Japan

Australia 5-29 USA  

Day Two Match Time – Monday 13 March

Cup Quarter-final: Australia v Fiji – 6.14am AEDT

Top 8 finishers

South Africa, England, Fiji, Argentina, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand. 


Matches will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports Ch501 from 3.20am AEDT

 

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