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By ARU Media Unit
Australia’s London Sevens title defence is on track with coach Michael O’Connor’s side progressing through to the finals undefeated at Twickenham on Saturday (Sunday AEST).
The Aussies, featuring six players from last year’s record-breaking squad, showed signs of improvement in each of their three pool wins - all of which were achieved after reversing a halftime deficit.
Australia will take on South Africa in the Cup quarter-finals tomorrow in front of what is expected to be a world-record Sevens crowd, while New Zealand have all but secured the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series title, after hosts England failed to progress in the top side of the draw.
Leading Australian try-scorer and skipper Bernard Foley took no time finding the chalk at Twickenham, crossing for two tries in his team’s opening 19-14 victory over Canada.
The young side then showed plenty of grit overturning a 21-0 halftime deficit against surprise-packets Scotland, to run in four tries in seven minutes and record an character-building 24-21 win.
Another boost for the young squad’s belief came when they toppled reigning World Series champions Samoa 21-20 in their final pool match, with Henry Vanderglas’ try deep into overtime giving kicker Hamish Angus the chance to steal the win with a successful conversion.
Last year, Australia broke an eight-year title drought with a thrilling 19-14 victory over South Africa in the Cup Final, and backed up their impressive performance up the following weekend by finishing runners-up to Samoa in Edinburgh.
Nearly 55,000 spectators attended day one of the penultimate leg of the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series, which is the biggest crowd to attend a single day of the global series in its 12-year history.
With two tournaments remaining, New Zealand (134) and England (121) lead the race for the 2010/11 title with holders Samoa (100) and South Africa (92) possibly too far back to challenge. Fifth-placed Fiji (90) hold a commanding 38-point lead over sixth-placed Australia (52).
Fox Sports will telecast highlights of the finals on June 2.
Cup QF fixtures
Australia v South Africa
Fiji v Samoa
Wales v France
New Zealand v Argentina
Day One results
Australia 19 (Bernard Foley 2, Dan Yakopo tries; Hamish Angus 2 cons) bt Canada 14
Australia 24 (Ed Jenkins 2, Foley, Greg Jeloudev tries; Angus 2 cons) bt Scotland 21
Australia 21 (Angus, Henry Vanderglas, Jono Lance tries; Angus 3 cons) bt Samoa 20
Australia: Bernard Foley (capt), Ed Jenkins, (vc), Hamish Angus, Lewis Holland, Zack Holmes, Greg Jeloudev, Jono Lance, Jesse Parahi, Brian Sefanaia, Jacob Taylor, Henry Vanderglas, Dan Yakopo.
London Sevens winners
2007: New Zealand
2005: South Africa
2002: New Zealand
2001: New Zealand
Australian Rugby Sevens proudly supported by the Australian Institute of Sport