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By ARU Media Unit
Eventual champions South Africa spoiled Australia’s title defence at the London Sevens on Sunday as semi-finalists New Zealand all but secured the 2010/11 HSBC Sevens World Series crown with a tournament in hand.
Coach Michael O’Connor’s side were unable to carry their resurgent form into day two at Twickenham with South Africa ending the young Aussies’ run early on day two, winning their Cup quarter-final clash 17-0, before going on to beat Fiji 24-14 in the Cup Final.
The victory, South Africa’s second of the season, lifts them into third place overall on the Series standings and ensures the race for second-place behind New Zealand will be hotly contested at the Edinburgh Sevens next weekend, with England holding just a five-point lead over the Africans after failing to impress at their home tournament.
After being relegated to the Plate competition, Australia made light work of the ever-improving France, with Greg Jeloudev scoring two tries in the solid 19-0 victory to set up the second clash with last season’s champions Samoa in two days.
Despite conceding two early tries, the Aussies were still well within reach trailing 15-5 at halftime and fuelled by the belief of their one-point victory a day earlier.
Rising star Hamish Angus brought his side within three points just two minutes into the second half, and the Aussies threw everything they had at the experienced Samoans, before eventually going down 22-12.
Coach O’Connor said he believes his sixth-placed side is starting to come together well and they will benefit from the experience at Twickenham, next weekend in Edinburgh.
“We were knocked out early by South Africa who I thought were very good at this tournament and they went on to win the whole thing,” O’Connor said.
“To have to beat last year’s champs Samoa twice in two days is tough, but we were really in the match today and the score wasn’t indicative of the game, we let in two soft tries early on.
“It’s all good experience, we’re coming together, and I just believe we have to be patient with the boys, we really are very inexperienced, our most experienced players have played 12 or 13 tournaments, where in other sides like New Zealand and Samoa, that figure is around the 40 to 50 mark.”
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.
PF – Australia 12 (Hamish Angus, Jono Lance tries; Angus con) lost to Samoa 22
PSF – Australia 19 (Greg Jeloudev 2, Brian Sefanaia; Bernard Foley 2 cons) bt France 0
CQF – Australia 0 lost to South Africa 17
Australia 19 (Bernard Foley 2, Dan Yakopo tries; 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.
Australian Rugby Sevens proudly supported by the Australian Institute of Sport
Qantas Australian Sevens player Shannon Walker will play his first tournament in over a year when he lines up for the National Indigenous side at this weekend’s National Sevens Championships in Narrabeen, Sydney.