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The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team have slumped to two losses on the opening day of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai to see them knocked out of Cup contention in day two of the tournament on Saturday.
Australia were hoping to go one better than round of the World Series on the Gold Coast where they finished runners-up to reigning champions, New Zealand.
But their chances were hit hard when they suffered a shock 21-17 loss to Scotland in their opening match, after leading 12-0 early on and 17-7 at half time.
They rebounded with a strong performance against Spain winning 45-0 but they still needed to defeat Wales in their final match to qualify for the Cup quarter finals tomorrow.
Australia led 14-12 early in the second half thanks to a try to Luke Morahan but Wales hit back with a try of their own to clinch a 19-14 victory.
The one win from three matches means Australia will play in the consolation competition, the Bowl on Saturday, where they will meet the USA in the Quarter Finals at 10.26am (5.26pm AEDT).
The Cup quarter finals will see New Zealand play Argentina, Fiji take on Scotland, South Africa face Kenya and Wales clash with England.
For match reports on Australia’s game see below.
For scores and reports from all matches and a list of tomorrow’s fixtures go to http://www.irbsevens.com/index.html
MATCH 1: AUSTRALIA 17 SCOTLAND 21
Australia gave up a 12-0 lead to suffer a shock 17-21 loss to Scotland in their opening match of round two of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Dubai.
Scotland enjoyed some early possession but strong defence won Australia a turnover and Greg Jeloudev sprinted away to score the opening try on three minutes. He converted his own try to put Australia out to a 7-0 lead.
Australia were in again a minute later after a clever grubber kick from Luke Morahan saw him re-gather on the Scottish line and when the ball squirted out the back of the ruck, Lewis Holland was on hand to touch down. Holland failed to add the extras.
Scotland got on the board just before half time as Colin Gregor found a gap. He converted his own try to bring it back to 12-7.
But Australia were further in front on the half time siren with Nick Malouf grubbering down the sideline for Holland to chase up and score his second try. Holland missed the conversion to leave the score 17-7 at half time.
But the second half was all Scotland. Gregor closed it up to 17-14 with his second try and conversion just a minute in.
Then disaster struck for Australia with just two minutes left as superb lead up work from Scotland saw John Houston run in a try. Gregor’s conversion gave Scotland a surprise 21-17 lead.
Australia were then left with having to score a try in the final minute to save the game but a well taken re-start by Gregor saw Scotland re-gain position and they safely played out the final moments for a stunning victory.
Australia were then left with having to defeat Spain and Wales in their final two matches to have any chance of reaching the Cup quarter finals on Saturday.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 17 (Lewis Holland 2, Greg Jeloudev tries; Jeloudev conversion) loss to Scotland 21 (Colin Gregor 2, John Houston tries; Gregor 3 conversions) at 7he Sevens in Dubai. (Half time: Australia 17 Scotland 7)
MATCH 2: AUSTRALIA 45 SPAIN 0
After the shock loss to Scotland in the opening match Australia needed to bounce back against the always feisty Spain.
Australia were on the board straight from the kick off. Sean McMahon leapt high to spectacularly take the re-start and after a number of phases Luke Morahan tumbled over the line. James Stannard landed the conversion and Australia were out to a 7-0 lead after just a minute.
Morahan then turned provider, opening space for the Mens’ Sevens player of the year, Con Foley, to scorch over out wide. The conversion this time slipped wide but Australia led 12-0 after just three minutes.
Spain threw themselves into attack but were held at bay by some strong defence, then when Australia got their chance Holland powered over from long range to score his third try of the tournament. Holland’s conversion was successful and Australia led comfortably 19-0 at the break.
The gold tide continued in the second half with a long run from McMahon setting up a try for Shannon Walker, converted by Stannard.
With three minutes left captain Ed Jenkins palmed off a Spanish defender to go over in the corner and Nick Malouf showed superb footwork to bamboozle the defence shortly after to score under the posts.
Morahan finished it off with his second try on the siren to polish off a comprehensive victory.
Australia’s fate now hung on the last match against Wales when only a victory would give them a chance of reaching the Cup quarter finals.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 45 (Luke Morahan 2, Con Foley, Lewis Holland, Shannon Walker, Ed Jenkins, Nick Malouf tries; James Stannard 4, Holland conversions) defeated Spain 0 at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half time: Australia 19 Spain 0)
MATCH 3: AUSTRALIA 14 WALES 19
With Scotland rallying late to beat Spain, Australia had to beat Wales to have any chance of qualifying for the Cup Quarter Finals on Saturday.
Wales had been in impressive form in their first two matches and Michael O’Connor’s team would need to be at their very best to beat them.
It was the Red Dragons who went ahead on two and a half minutes after a movement that swept from sideline to sideline and was finished by Chris Knight to give Wales a 5-0 lead.
But Australia hit back soon after when the ball came lose in the midfield and Luke Morahan popped it up for Lewis Holland to sprint through and score under the posts. Holland converted his own try and Australia were ahead 7-5.
But Wales would not be denied and James Davies show superb speed to race through and score Wales second try, which was converted by Rhys Jones making the score 12-7 at half time.
Australia kept their composure and launched a sustained attack on the Welsh line which eventually saw Morahan burrow his way over next to the posts. The try was converted by Stannard and Australia led 14-12 with under five minutes remaining.
A superb run from Morahan almost set up the decisive try for Walker but good defence from Wales resulted in a loose ball which was scooped up by Davies who raced away to score his second try. The score was converted by Jones and now Wales led 19-14 with two minutes on the clock.
With 45 seconds left Australia were given one last chance when they were awarded a scrum in their own half.
Australia attacked and looked dangerous but a knock on was called bringing an end the match and consigning Australia to the Bowl on day two.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 14 (Lewis Holland, Luke Morahan tries; Holland, James Stannard conversions) lost to Wales 19 (James Davies 2, Chris Knight tries; Rhys Jones 2 conversions) at 7he Sevens in Dubai. (Half Time: Wales 12 Australia 7)