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By ARU Media Unit
Australia have recorded their best result in Commonwealth Games Sevens Rugby history with a Silver Medal, after going down narrowly 24-17 to a history-making New Zealand side in Delhi last month.
Captain Patrick McCutcheon’s side held a 10-point lead early in the second half but the experienced Kiwis fought back and piled on three unanswered tries to close out the match and claim their fourth successive gold medal.
By claiming silver, coach Michael O’Connor’s young squad achieved Australia’s best ever result at a Games, breaking a 12-year drought which began after captain David Campese’s team won bronze in Kuala Lumpur when the sport made its debut on the playing roster.
Coach O’Connor praised his young side’s performance at the 16-nation tournament.
“We were conscious that a side like New Zealand could come back from a 10-point deficit and unfortunately that’s what happened and that’s the way it goes I guess,” O’Connor said.
“To win silver is an outstanding achievement and the boys played really well, I couldn’t have asked for any more and I’m extremely proud of them.|
A downcast McCutcheon rued missed opportunities in the final.
“A few mistakes were costly and our execution wasn’t 100 per cent, a few knock-ons, dropped balls and pushed passes really cost us,” McCutcheon said.
“But for the boys to win the silver medal it’s reward for all the hard work that has been put in over the last 12 months, and it’s a tremendous achievement to record Australia’s best result at a Commonwealth Games.”
New Zealand were the first to score in the gold medal decider through a try to Lote Raikabula but a lapse in discipline soon after saw All Black Liam Messam sent to the bin for a reckless tackle on James Stannard.
Australia used the advantage of having an extra man on the field and made New Zealand pay with a try to Qantas Wallabies winger Lachie Turner in the corner.
On the tick of halftime, Qantas Wallabies 2010 Spring Tourist Luke Morahan chipped ahead and won a two-man race to touch down for Australia’s second try of the final.
Stannard’s try after the break, his fourth for the day, gave the Australians a 17-7 advantage but the defending champions struck back immediately through a runaway try to Sherwin Stowers before finding top gear and closing out the match with tries to veteran skipper DJ Forbes and Kurt Baker.
Earlier, Australia recorded a 27-5 quarterfinals victory over Kenya to ignite their race to the medal dais before toppling eventual bronze medallists South Africa 17-7 in the semi finals.
Australia secured a favourable draw in the finals when a surprise two-point loss to England on day one handed them a quarterfinals hit-out against Kenya, instead of reigning world series champions Samoa.
The Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games saw the end of historical year for the Australian Sevens in 2010, having also finished third in the IRB Sevens World Series rankings and claiming the London Sevens title.
The next prize for the side will be winning at home on the Adelaide-leg of the 2010/2011 HSBC Sevens World Series on the 2-3 April at Adelaide Oval.
QF- Australia 27 (James Stannard 2, Shaun Foley, Luke Morahan, Nick Cummins tries, Stannard con) bt Kenya 5
SF - Australia 17 (Lachie Turner, Liam Gill, Stannard tries, Stannard con) bt South Africa 7
FINAL – Australia 17 (Turner, Morahan, Stannard tries, Stannard con) lost to New Zealand 24 (Lote Raikabula, Sherwin Stowers, DJ Forbes, Kurt Baker tries, Stowers, Baker cons)
Australia 33 (Lachie Turner 2, Liam Gill 2, Luke Morahan tries, James Stannard 4 cons) bt Uganda 0
Australia 42 (Nick Phipps 2, Kimami Sitauti, Morahan, Gill, Nick Cummins tries, Stannard 6 cons) bt Sri Lanka 5
Australia 19 (Bernard Foley, Turner, Patrick McCutcheon tries, Stannard 2 cons) lost to England 21
Team: Robbie Coleman (20, NSW), Nick Cummins (22, WA), Bernard Foley (20, NSW) , Shaun Foley (24, NSW) ,Liam Gill (18, QLD), Ed Jenkins (24, NSW), Pat McCutcheon (23, NSW, Captain), Luke Morahan (20, QLD), Nick Phipps (21, NSW), Kimami Sitauti (19, QLD), James Stannard (27, ACT) , Lachie Turner (23, NSW)
Qantas Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John has lauded his charges after they recorded their second top-three finish in consecutive weeks.