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The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team has hit back from a disappointing first day to claim the Bowl on day two of the HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Dubai.
After losses to Wales and Scotland on the first day had knocked them out of Cup contention, Australia came back with wins over the USA (47-7), the 2012 champions Samoa (19-14) and Portugal (17-12) to clinch the Bowl decider.
The three wins on day two will go some way to erasing the memories of a horror first day and Australia will move on with renewed confidence to the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Port Elizabeth next weekend.
“I was nearly about to put myself on suicide watch last night but it’s a little bit better today” said a clearly relieved Australian Men’s coach Michael O’Connor.
“It was disappointing waking after a day like yesterday” he continued, “We were very disappointed in our effort. We just made too many errors.”
“But today it’s been a bit of a turnaround. A good first up win (over the USA) and it’s good to beat an A team like Samoa. They are the reigning champions here and they are a very good team. “
O’Connor was also pleased how Australia held their nerve to come back from 14-12 in the final seconds against Samoa and clinch the victory with a superb long range try.
“They showed great composure at the end” he said, “They didn’t panic, they took their time with the tap and they backed themselves.”
He was also please with the progress of some players making their debut in Dubai.
“I’m trying a couple of new halfs” he explained, “it’s a work in progress but young Paul Asquith has been good and on his first outing at ten. It’s encouraging to see he can step up at this level. I’ve taken players over here in the past and they haven’t been able to.”
He hasn’t ruled out however making a move for new Women’s sensation Rachel Crothers, the star of the Women’s come from behind victory over New Zealand in the Final last night.
“Isn’t she a beauty?” he beamed, “I would (have her). She’s been fantastic, A real revelation.”
O’Connor also paid tribute to the Women’s team on their extraordinary fight back to win round one of the IRB Womens Sevens World Series.
“Unbelievable, the courage that they showed to come back from 22-0, it’s just about unheard of” said O’Connor, “That was great.”
Jesse Parahi, a try scorer in the win over the USA, said the Men’s team took a hard look at themselves last night.
“We sat down last night and had a talk about results” said Parahi after the USA win, “Now what we’ve talked about has worked a little bit so hopefully today will be good.”
“We struggled a bit yesterday to find a bit of consistency and flow in our game. We struggled to find a few combinations in the games and at times when we needed it most but we rectified that in our first game so we’re looking for a big day today.”
Australia now move on to Port Elizabeth in South Africa for round three of the World Series next weekend.
One team O’Connor and Parahi will both be hoping to avoid in Port Elizabeth is Scotland, who have come from behind to foil Australia in their last two meetings.
“They really have (become our bogey team)” said Parahi. “I don’t know if it’s a mental thing but they’ve come a long way and they are a very good side now.”
“They are our bogey team” agreed O’Connor. “They’ve played well. They almost went through to the semis against Fiji. They beat us. They are definitely a team on the improve.”
Full match reports on Australia’s games on day two are below.
For scores and reports from all matches go to http://www.irbsevens.com/index.html
BOWL QUARTER FINAL – AUSTRALIA 47 USA 7
The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team were looking to get day two off on a more positive note than day one when they took on the lowly ranked USA.
The match started badly for Australia with Zach Test running straight through Luke Morahan to score under the posts. The conversion by Folau Niua put the Eagles up 7-0 after just two minutes.
USA were unlucky not to go further ahead on three and a half minutes when Test just failed to re-gather a clever grubber kick.
Morahan made up for his earlier mistake by initiating a break out from behind Australia’s try line, which was finished off 100 metres down the field with Sean McMahon placing the ball under the posts. The conversion by debutant Paul Asquith brought scores level at 7-7.
The USA then saw Niua sin-binned for slowing down the ball at the ruck and Australia immediately took advantage of their extra number with Morahan running across field to put Con Foley in the corner. Asquith converted superbly from the touchline to make it 14-7.
The USA was then reduced to five players right on half time when a late tackle on Morahan saw Stephen Tomasin yellow carded, and again Australia took advantage with Foley scoring his second of the match and his third of the tournament. Asquith’s third conversion made it 21-7.
It was one way traffic in the second half with Australia finally clicking into gear. First Lewis Holland went over under the posts and then Jesse Parahi scored out wide.
Nick Malouf and Greg Jeloudev added late tries to make the final score 47-7 and send Australia into the Bowl semi-final where they would face a tough contest against last year’s Dubai winners, Samoa.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 47 (Con Foley 2, Nick Malouf, Lewis Holland, Jesse Parahi, Sean McMahon, Greg Jeloudev tries; Paul Asquith 4, James Stannard, Jeloudev conversions) defeated USA 7 (Zach Test try; Folau Niua conversion) at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half time: Australia 21 USA 7)
BOWL SEMI-FINAL – AUSTRALIA 19 SAMOA 14
Australia faced a stern test in the Bowl Semi-Final against last year’s Dubai 7s champions, Samoa.
But good pressure in defence straight from the kick off saw the ball come loose and Ed Jenkins toed the ball ahead and dived over to put Australia ahead 5-0 after just a minute.
Samoa then put the pressure on in defence but Australia kept their composure well and after recycling the ball through a number of phases Jenkins scooped up the ball from the base of a ruck to run over untouched. Paul Asquith this time landed the conversion and Australia were up 12-0 at half time.
Samoa threatened to get back in the match after the re-start but excellent defence from Australia snuffed out a dangerous looking attack.
But Samoa were in through Oneone Faafou a minute later wide out and an excellent conversion by Alatasi Tupou set up a tense final five minutes with the score at 12-7.
A big tackle from Tom Lucas then won possession back for Australia and Luke Morahan just failed to ground a clever kick through that would have made the game safe.
Australia continued to defend well but finally Samoa broke through with a try to Lio Lolo, again converted by Tupou to put Samoa in front 14-12 for the first time in the match.
With the clock running down Australia had one last chance and again they showed tremendous composure and ball security to keep possession.
Eventually Shannon Walker burst through the Samoan defence with a powerful run downfield. He was caught close to the line but he showed superb strength to keep up on his feet long enough to get a pass away to James Stannard who was backing up brilliantly to drive over.
Stannard converted and Australia were through to the Bowl Final.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 19 (Ed Jenkins 2, James Stannard tries; Paul Asquith, Stannard conversions) defeated Samoa 14 (Oneone Faafou, Lio Lolo tries; Alatasi Tupou 2 conversions) at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half Time: Australia 12 Samoa 0
BOWL FINAL – AUSTRALIA 17 PORTUGAL 12
Australia were under pressure early as Portugal were camped near the Australian try line and the continued pressure saw Luke Morahan sin binned after just two minutes for slowing the ball down at the ruck.
Portugal took advantage of the extra player immediately with Aderito Esteves battling his way over outwide to score the first try of the match and give Portugal a 5-0 lead.
But even though they were playing with six men Australia were next to score with strong work at the breakdown by Ed Jenkins turning the ball over and a number of phases later Tom Lucas strode over untouched.
Paul Asquith landed the conversion and Australia led 7-5 with a minute remaining in the first half.
Shannon Walker tried hard to increase the lead as half time approached but the Portuguese defence held firm.
Australia continued to press Portugal’s line early in the second half but still they were held out until a kick through from Estevez was fielded by Asquith who did well to put Sean McMahon into a gap.
Asquith backed up to take the return pass and then put Morahan over in the corner to make it 12-5, Asquith’s conversion hitting the upright.
Australia almost clinched the game moments later as Jesse Parahi was stopped just short of the line but seconds later suddenly Portugal were level as Carl Murray raced away to score under the posts. Pedro Leal’s conversion tied it up at 12-12.
But just as Australia had kept their composure to defeat Samoa in the Bowl semi-final, so they remained calm as the seconds ticked down.
They held the ball and good interplay between Asquith, having a fine game, and Con Foley saw Asquith go over next to the posts. His conversion again hit an upright but it was of no import as Australia won a tight contest 17-12 to clinch the Bowl in Dubai.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens 17 (Tom Lucas, Luke Morahan, Paul Asquith tries; Asquith conversion) defeated Portugal 12 (Aderito Esteves, Carl Murray tries; Pedro Leal conversion) at 7he Sevens, Dubai. (Half time: Australia 7 Portugal 5)
09 MARCH 2014
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