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By ARU Media Unit
The Qantas Men’s Sevens have concluded the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series as Plate champions, following a 14-12 win over England in London overnight.
The result cements the Australians in sixth place at the close of the HSBC Sevens World Series, the same rank they finished the 2010-2011 season with.
The team’s hopes of claiming a second Cup championship, following their tournament victory in Tokyo last month, looked promising after the Qantas Men’s Sevens went 3-0 on Day 1 of the London Sevens.
However, Cup quarter-final opponents Argentina, ranked seventh, had a different outcome in mind as they staged a 12-7 coup to send Australia to the Plate playoffs. Ed Stubbs scored Australia’s only try in the Cup quarter, with Allan Faalavaau adding the extras.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens then met Spain in the Plate semi-final and reignited their attacking flair, with tries to Jesse Parahi, Faalavaau and Lindsay Crook securing a 17-12 victory. Faalavaau kicked his side’s only conversion in the match.
A spirited Plate final with familiar opponents England, who finished the series ranked third, saw the Qantas Men’s Sevens off to a tense start, after Faalavaau received a yellow card less than two minutes in.
Being shorthanded didn’t appear to effect the Australian’s though, as captain Ed Jenkins crossed over for a try, converting his own effort to take an early 7-0 lead. A try to England’s Matt Turner saw the sides locked at 7-7 by half time.
Stubbs scored early in the second half for the Qantas Men’s Sevens and Faalavaau’s conversion took his side to a 14-7 lead. England fought back with a try to Jeff Williams late in the contest but Dan Bibby was unable to hit the conversion and send the game into extra time. Bibby also missed a penalty attempt with less than one minute remaining in the contest.
In the pool stage, the Qantas Men’s Sevens started with a decisive 27-12 win over Scotland, with Matt Lucas scoring his side’s first try before Jenkins and teammate Damon Anderson notched doubles. Lucas added one conversion.
Then onto Portugal, with a similarly domineering score line, as the Qantas Men’s Sevens finished up 26-5 following tries to Sean McMahon, Anderson, Crook and a penalty try. Faalavaau kicked three conversions.
Their closest game of the pool stage came against South Africa, where Australia were able to sneak by with a 19-17 win. Stubbs, Con Foley and Jenkins notched the five pointers for Australia, while Faalavaau added two conversions.
Coverage of the London Sevens will appear on Fox Sports 3HD and 3 on Tuesday, 15 May from 5pm.
With the HSBC Sevens World Series complete, the Qantas Men’s Sevens now take a deserved break after a year which saw the depth of Australia’s Sevens squad tested and improved as coach Michael O’Connor continued to introduce youth to the cauldron of international Sevens.
After a promising start to the 2011-2012 season, in which the young Qantas Men’s Sevens finished fourth in the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens – Fever Pitch, injury dampened the side’s prospects in the middle stages of the tournament.
While there were some setbacks, the experience built within the side cannot be understated and there were a number of highlights throughout the year, including the Tokyo Sevens championship Cup, Australia’s first tournament championship since London 2010.
The Qantas Men’s Sevens will resume competition in the 2012-2013 season, which kicks off 13-14 October, 2012, with the return of Gold Coast Sevens – Fever Pitch.
Qantas Men’s Sevens Squad for London:
Ed Jenkins (C)