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The Australian Men’s Sevens have finished top of their pool to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup Sevens with two wins and a draw in Pool A in Moscow.
The Australian Men’s Sevens opened their tournament with wins over Spain, 21-0, and Tunisia, 40-7, before a 17-17 draw against France in their final match of Pool A.
The Australians now face England at 7:45pm (AEST) tonight in the Cup quarter-final, with just three wins standing between them and World Cup glory.
Australian Men’s Sevens coach Michael O’Connor was pleased to see his team qualify for the Cup round, but said there was plenty of work left to do.
“I’m very happy with the way the guys have played over the course of the pool games,” O’Connor said.
“Every game at this tournament is a tough game, every game is a knock out, so they’re massive games.”
Australia v Spain
Their match against Spain saw both sides test the waters for the first three minutes before a penalty against Spain on halfway awarded the Australians an attacking opportunity.
The Australians opened the scoring shortly after with a try to Matt Lucas, who converted his own handy work to take his side to 7-0.
Lucas’ NSW Waratahs teammate Bernard Foley was the next to score, creating something from nothing to cross the line, converting his own try for a 14-0 lead at half time.
Both sides were scoreless for much of the second half, but a quick tap by Lewis Holland on Spain’s five metre line gave Australia one last try before full time. Lucas converted to take the score to 21-0.
Australia v Tunisia
The Australians got off to a strong start against Tunisia, scoring within the first two minutes after quick hands sent Tom Cusack over for his first try of the tournament. James Stannard added the extras to give Australia a 7-0 lead.
They went on to dominate the first half 28-0, notching tries through Con Foley, Sean McMahon and another to Cusack. Stannard added a further three conversions in the first half.
The second half saw Shannon Walker cross twice to finish the scoring for Australia. Tunisia crossed over well after the final siren to notch their only try of the match. Stannard converted one of Walker’s second-half tries.
Australia v France
The Aussies struck the first blow 30 seconds into the match when Luke Morahan burnt the French defenders on the outside to cross over in the corner. The conversion was missed and Australia led 5-0.
While up on the scoreboard, the Australians suffered a blow, with Sean McMahon forced to leave the field after injuring his arm with three minutes left in the first half.
Morahan added his second try of the match shortly after, again showing great pace to take Australia to a 10-0 lead.
France were penalised just before half time, with Paul Albaladejo shown a yellow card for a breakdown infringement. Australia led 10-0 at the break.
Australia struck early in the second half, taking advantage of the extra man to release speedster Shannon Walker on the wing.
Walker had plenty of work to do, beating three defenders with a combination of speed, footwork and a powerful left fend to cross over. Matt Lucas added the conversion and Australia led 17-0.
France then staged an incredible comeback, notching two tries and a penalty goal in the space of one minute to tie the game. French scrumhalf Terry Bouhraoua scored the first of the three, converting his own try to close the score to 17-7.
The French won the next restart with Jean Marcellin Buttin breaking away to score a quick try. Steeve Barry added the conversion quickly and the score was suddenly 17-14.
France won the restart again and were awarded a penalty, allowing Bouhraoua to kick a drop penalty goal to lock the score at 17-17. With a draw enough for both teams to qualify for the Cup round, the French kicked the ball out following the restart, bringing the game to a close.
The Australian Men’s Sevens face England at 7:45pm (AEST) tonight, Sunday 30 June.
The Australian Women’s Sevens also topped their pool at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, with wins over China, 36-0, Ireland, 22-5, and South Africa, 29-0. They will face Spain in the Cup quarter-final of the women’s tournament at 7:30pm (AEST) tonight, Sunday 30 June.
All matches will be streamed live at www.irb.com. The final day of the tournament will be streamed live on www.irb.com and broadcast live on Fox Sports 3HD.
Australia 21 – Spain 0
Australia tries – Matt Lucas, Bernard Foley, Lewis Holland.
Conversions – Lucas (2), Foley.
Australia 40 – Tunisia 7
Australia tries – Tom Cusack (2), Shannon Walker (2), Sean McMahon, Con Foley.
Conversions – James Stannard (5).
Australia 17 – France 17
Australia tries – Luke Morahan (2), Shannon Walker.
Conversion – Matt Lucas.
Australian Men’s Sevens Rugby World Cup Sevens squad
Northern Suburbs, NSW
Canberra Royals, ACT
NSW Waratahs, Super Rugby
University of Queensland, QLD
Queanbeyan Whites, NSW
Ed Jenkins (c)
Sydney University, NSW
Queensland Reds, Super Rugby
Gold Coast, QLD
Avoca Beach, NSW
Australian Men’s Sevens Rugby World Cup Sevens staff
Strength and conditioning coach
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.