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The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team have overcome two periods of sudden death extra time to defeat South Africa 24-19 in a thrilling Cup semi-final of the Gold Coast Sevens.
Australia will now face New Zealand in the Final who overcame England 14-5 in the hard fought first Cup semi-final.
The Australia-South Africa game exploded into life in the opening minute with Shannon Walker bursting down the right hand touchline before bumping off two defenders to score under the posts. James Stannard converted to make it 7-0.
It got even better for Australia a minute later as Con Foley collected a superb short pass from captain Ed Jenkins and raced away to dot down under the posts. Stannard again converted to give Australia a dream start – up 14-0 after just three minutes.
South Africa hit back with a brilliant solo try to Jamba Ulengo who chipped ahead and re-gathered to score under the posts. The conversion to Justin Geduld made it 14-7 at half time.
Jenkins, who is making a strong case for player of the Tournament, gave Australia some breathing space after he collected a superb re-start from Stannard at the start of the second half and raced away to score. Stannard’s conversion hit the left upright but Australia looked clear at 19-7.
But then South Africa hit back with a second long range try to Ulengo, converted by Geduld, and when Stephen Dippenaar showed surprising pace to run away and touchdown it was all locked up at 19-all.
Both sides attacked frantically in the final minutes of regular time with replacement Junior Laloifi showing extraordinary speed to win a race to the ball to stop Ulengo scoring what would have been the decider after another chip ahead.
The teams went to sudden death extra time and Laloifi had a chance to put Jenkins over for the winner but he held on when he should have passed.
Somehow South Africa held Australia out and the teams went to a second period of sudden death extra time and this time Laloifi was the hero putting Jesse Parahi over in the right hand touchline for the winning score.
Australia now face New Zealand in the Cup decider. The All Blacks Sevens have been extremely impressive only conceding one try in the entire tournament with a combined score of 149-5.
You can watch the final live on Fox Sports 2 at 7.04 AEST (8.04pm AEDT).
GOLD COAST SEVENS
MATCH RESULT – CUP SEMI FINAL
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 24 (Shannon Walker, Con Foley, Ed Jenkins, Jesse Parahi tries; James Stannard 2 conversions) defeated South Africa 19 (Jamba Ulengo 2, Stephen Dippenaar tries; Justin Geduld 2 conversions) after Extra Time at Skilled Park, Gold Coast.
Players from the Qantas Australian Women's Sevens program visited the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick on Thursday to bring some needed festive cheer to sick children.