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By ARU Media Unit
The Australian Rugby Sevens are through to the Cup quarter-finals after notching clinical victories over the USA and England on day two of the Adelaide Sevens on Saturday.
Series leaders New Zealand, defending champions South Africa, Argentina, Samoa, Wales, Fiji and the USA have also qualified to battle it out for top honours at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Coach Michael O’Connor’s side will leapfrog England into fourth place on the IRB Sevens World Series standings at the completion of the event, after England failed to reach the Cup quarter-finals.
Australia remain undefeated and head into the finals as the form side after an impressive 36-0 victory over USA and a nail-biting 17-12 win over England.
Skipper McCutcheon was ecstatic his team remained composed in a pressure-cooker match against England and he believes the solid win will give them the best momentum heading into the finals, where they’ll face Fiji.
“It’s outstanding, we’ve been looking at how we can build character and build self worth in our team and I really think that’s come a long way,” McCutcheon said.
“We were six points down in the dying minutes and to hold them up, that’s character building.
“The team’s starting to perform and is starting to perform at a top level so they boys are starting to realise we can be genuine contenders in this sort of tournament, and shrug that young underdog tag.”
Live-wire centre Brackin Karauria-Henry scored a hat trick of tries in just three minutes as Australia galloped to a commanding 36-0 victory over the United States and qualified for the Cup quarter-finals with a pool match to spare.
Rising teenage star Liam Gill showed pace and a handy step on his way to a double, while captain McCutcheon also found the chalk in his first match of the tournament.
Halfback James Stannard booted three from six conversions in a match where the competition was expected to be much closer after the US caused one of the biggest upsets of the opening day by defeating England.
The vocal crowd came alive for the final match of the day and spurred Australia on to secure their first victory over England in the 2009/10 Series.
Exciting teenager Kimami Sitauti bagged two tries, while home-town favourite Gill latched on to a behind-the-back flick pass from Karauria-Henry to put Australia back in front from a six-point deficit and seal the result.
The clinical Australians finished top of Pool D while Wales, South Africa and New Zealand topped their respective pools, with Australia and New Zealand the only teams to remain undefeated.
In Sunday’s finals: New Zealand play Samoa and Australia take on Fiji in the top half of the draw, with Wales to face the US and South Africa to meet Argentina.
Samoa looked particularly dangerous and weren’t troubled by their opposition until their final match of the evening when they were handed a 12-all draw by the boot of South Africa’s Cecil Afrika.
Samoan standout Mikaele Pesamino amassed an amazing five tries against Japan in a 54-5 win and crossed the chalk again against South Africa.
Wales laid claim to compiling the highest score of the tournament thus far when they thrashed PNG 64-5 to secure their place in the Cup quarter-finals.
Japan fought back from a 40-0 drubbing at the hands of South Africa to record the upset of the day with a 21-15 win over France in Pool B.
Day two results:
Pool A: New Zealand 26 bt Tonga 0, Argentina 14 bt Scotland 7, Tonga 22 bt Scotland 7, New Zealand 47 bt Argentina 7.
Pool B: Samoa 54 bt Japan 5, South Africa 38 bt France 0, Japan 21 bt France 15, Samoa 12 drew South Africa 12
Pool C: Fiji 41bt PNG 0, Kenya 19 bt Wales 5, Wales 64 bt PNG 5, Fiji 21 bt Kenya 7
Pool D: England 38 bt Niue 0, Australia 36 bt USA 0, USA 29 bt Niue 7, Australia17 bt England 12
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.