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The Australian Men’s Sevens have finished equal fifth at Rugby World Cup Sevens after a narrow 21-17 loss to England in the Cup quarter-final in Moscow tonight.
The Australians entered the quarter-final with a level of confidence, after finishing top of their pool, following two wins and a draw.
In the end, it was England’s ability to take advantage of Australia’s errors that made the difference, as their northern hemisphere rivals defeated them by the same margin as the Rugby World Cup Sevens final between the two sides in 1993.
England controlled the restart from the initial kick off, immediately converting opportunity into points, notching three tries in the first half to take a 21-0 lead at half time.
The Australians finally enjoyed some possession in the second half and began closing the sizeable deficit, with a try to Con Foley early on.
Livewire Shannon Walker crossed twice, but two missed conversions were the difference as Australia trailed by four at full time.
Australian Men’s Sevens captain Ed Jenkins, competing in his second Rugby World Cup Sevens, was understandably disappointed with the result and rued his side’s missed opportunities.
“We had the opportunity at the end to claim it, but we just didn’t execute and that’s really disappointing,” Jenkins said.
“We let them get off to a decent lead and unfortunately in the second half we couldn’t chase them down. Simple handling errors let us down. We were able to make the line break but then we pushed the pass when we didn’t need to.
“The boys are obviously shattered. We had a great opportunity to go all the way and it’s missed opportunities like that which hurt the most.”
Australian Men’s Sevens coach Michael O’Connor was proud of the effort of his side to close the gap, but was frustrated with the final result.
“We put ourselves back in the game in the second half and it was a tremendously courageous effort, but it just wasn’t to be,” O’Connor said.
“It was a game that we should have won, but we didn’t put ourselves in a position to do that at the start.
“We were in good shape after the pool stage and I did think we were good enough to get through this game, but in saying that you have to look at some of the other results in the quarter-finals.
“There were some incredible results and upsets and that’s the nature of the tournament.”
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 Australian Women’s Sevens also topped their pool at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013, but fell short of their aim to defend their title, after losing 14-10 to Spain in the Cup quarter-final.
The Australian women won all three of their pool games, defeating China, 36-0, Ireland, 22-5, and South Africa, 29-0.
AUSTRALIAN MEN’S SEVENS - POOL PLAY
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.
Australia 17 – England 21
Australia tries – Con Foley, Shannon Walker (2); 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