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By ARU Media Unit
Samoa has swept aside a valiant Australia and then trounced the USA 38-10 in the Cup Final to win the International Rugby Sevens Adelaide on Sunday and record their second-straight tournament victory of the IRB Sevens World Series.
In what was an entertaining day sprinkled with upsets, traditional Sevens heavyweights New Zealand and South Africa were handed shock losses early on day three at Adelaide Oval while the US, Argentina, Australian and Samoa stayed in the heated race for tournament honours.
The US, appearing in their first-ever Cup Final, were defeated six tries to two in the final by the Samoans, whose emphatic victory cuts New Zealand’s lead at the top of the table to just six-championship points.
Samoan coach Steven Betham was delighted with his team’s victory and reserved special praise for the performance of Mikaele Pesamino, who bagged 11 tournament tries.
“We were trying to work our way to the top … there’s no substitute for speed in Sevens,” Betham said.
Showcasing the quality of the competition in the IRB Sevens and its exciting unpredictability, Series leaders New Zealand and defending champions South Africa fought it out in the Plate final with New Zealand grabbing the spoils, 21-14.
Series contenders England and Kenya fought it out for the Bowl Final, with England coming out on top 33-12 while Japan defeated Tonga 22-19 in the Shield Final.
Ever-improving Australia equaled their best result of the Series and move into fourth on the points table after reaching the Cup semi-final for the second time in as many tournaments, but as in Las Vegas, the ominous Samoans ended their dreams of reaching the Cup Final, 26-12.
Samoa showed their precision under the high ball, proving unbeatable in the air, and before coach Michael O’Connor’s side could utilise possession, they were facing a 19-nil deficit at halftime.
Eddie Quirk, who has enjoyed brilliant form during the tournament, and elusive centre Brackin Karauria-Henry, both ran in tries in the second-half and half back James Stannard nailed both conversions.
O’Connor said Australia were beaten out of the blocks by a clinical Samoan side but he expects they will learn from the experience and bounce back in Hong Kong next weekend.
“We were 19-0 down before we knew what was going on, and they denied us the ball, comprehensively outplayed us in the air and on the ground I thought," O’Connor said.
“It is very hard to come back from that sort of score line in the second half and the way they started they were on a roll, they denied us possession and our blokes were a bit shell shocked I think.
“I thought we were unlucky in Las Vegas to lose (the semi) but we weren't unlucky to lose that game, they were clearly the better side.”¶
Earlier, Australia delighted the vocal Adelaide crowd in their Cup quarter-final clash when they fought back from a 22-14 deficit with just two minutes remaining to topple the flamboyant Fijians 26-22 and stay in the race for the Cup.
A purple patch of play from Stannard, which mustered two tries and a conversion, helped the Australians seal an exciting come-from-behind victory and book a second-consecutive clash with Samoa in the Cup Semis.
Inspirational captain and newly-signed NSW Waratahs recruit, Patrick McCutcheon also scored two tries in the nail-biting match.
Australia have earned 16 series points and overtake England into fourth on the IRB Series standings, streets ahead of last year’s result of eighth overall.
McCutcheon’s side has also significantly bettered the result they achieved in Adelaide last year when they were beaten by England in the Plate Final.
Over 29,000 attended the three-day event.
Bowl QF - Tonga 0 lost to France 38
Bowl QF - England 47 beat PNG 0
Bowl QF -finals- Kenya 25 beat Niue 7
Bowl QF - Japan 15 lost to Scotland 21
Cup QF - New Zealand 19 lost to Samoa 24
Cup QF - Australia 26 beat Fiji 22
Cup QF - Wales 10 lost to USA 12
Cup QF - South Africa 14 lost to Argentina 17
SF Shield - Tonga 45 beat PNG 0
SF Shield - Niue 5 lost to Japan 22
SF Bowl - France 0 lost to England 19
SF Bowl - Kenya 36 beat Scotland 12
SF Plate - New Zealand 24 beat Fiji 21
SF Plate – Wales 0 lost to South Africa 29
SF Cup - Samoa 26 beat Australia 12
SF Cup – USA 28 beat Argentina 12
Shield Final – Tonga 19 lost to Japan 22
Bowl Final- England 33 beat Kenya 12
Plate Final –New Zealand 21 beat South Africa 14
Cup Final –Samoa 38 beat USA 10
Qantas Australian Rugby Sevens stars Emilee Cherry and Cameron Clark have been rewarded for their stellar performances throughout their respective 2013/14 seasons after picking up three awards between them at the 2014 John Eales Medal in Sydney.