Aussie Sevens looking for sweet spot

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Aussie Sevens need to find a happy medium as the World Series goes on, with defence a growing problem for the side.

Australia is three tries clear of its nearest rival, South Africa, when it comes to scoring points, but when you look at their concessions, the issues become obvious.

The Aussies have conceded 280 points in the first two legs of the tournament, more than double World Series leaders New Zealand and second-placed South Africa, who have leaked 122 and 123, respectively.

In the tackling stakes, the Kiwis are outnumber the Aussies with successful tackles 13.83 to 10.33 per game, and South Africa boast 12.52 successful tackles per game.

Australia has no trouble scoring tries. Photo: Getty ImagesIt’s a deficiency Australia coach Andy Friend is acutely aware of as his team looks to make an impact in their home tournament next month.

“Our attack has been good all year, think we’re up there with the teams who have scored the highest amount of tries, the issue is more our defence and making sure when we don’t have the ball that we’re as ruthless as we are in attack when we do have the football and we’re able to tackle hard to get that ball back,” he said.

“The attack’s never been an issue I don’t believe and I keep saying to the boys, ‘defence is what wins you tournaments’ and we haven’t been defending as well as we should’ve been.”

Australia made the best of their finals predicament on day two, finishing ninth easily, and Friend said that showed that they had the quality to be on the other side of the draw, playing for the big prize.


The Aussie mentor, though, lamented his team’s inconsistency that saw them lose to New Zealand and the USA on day one.

“We set out at the start of the day, the best we could achieve is ninth spot and we managed to achieve that,” he said.

“So, what we really proved there today was we’re better than ninth spot in my opinion.

“What we need to be better at is one day one, we need to make sure we’re winning those.

“The day was pleasing but we’re certainly not happy with ninth spot.”

Andy Friend wants better defence from his side. Photo: Getty ImagesAustralia’s men will return to Sydney in the coming days, with more training before a Christmas mini-break, as they eye off improvement in a trio of huge tournaments.

First comes their home tournament in Sydney, on January 26, before April’s Commonwealth Games and July’s Sevens World Cup, with World Series legs in New Zealand and Hong Kong scattered in the schedule.

“Sydney into the comm games and the world cup - they’re the three (tournaments) we’ve targeted (this season),” Friend said.

“It’s been a good prelude into those tournaments but we know we’ve got a bit of work to do and we’ve got to get back and make sure we do that work before we break for Christmas.”

The 2018 Sydney 7s runs from Friday January 26 - Sunday January 28, with concurrent men’s and women’s competitions. Tickets available from ticketek.com.au/sydney7s.