Aussie Men's Sevens Olympic preparations on track

by staff

The Australian Men's Sevens program has kept its preparation for the Rio 2016 Regional Olympic Qualifier in Auckland next month firmly on track with an impressive win at the Central Coast Sevens.

In a tournament featuring the national side from New Zealand and strong club sides from Fiji, Canada and the USA, the Thunderbolts swept all before them to claim the 2015 UON Central Coast Sevens title.

After an undefeated Day One, the Thunderbolts beat Yamacia (12-7) in the Cup Quarter-Final before seeing off Wellington (33-7) in the Semi. In the Cup Final, an electric Henry Hutchison led the way with a man of the match display while Tom Cusack was a standout in the forwards as Australia defeated Tabadama (31-21).

Australian forward Tom Cusack said: "The win was a testament to the boys character. This tournament is the toughest on the domestic circuit and it was a privilege to come out and play with these boys and win.

"We all know there is a bigger picture ahead - and that picture is Rio 2016 qualification. I really think this is just the beginning for us but we're fully aware we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Interim Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "To have this level of competition on our doorstep is invaluable. It is a world-class competition and exactly what we needed leading into the 2016 Olympic Oceania Tournament next month. Our preparations are going to plan and we're in a good spot."

The Aussie Pearls, with a squad boasting 116 World Series caps, began Finals day with a win over the Greater Sydney Rams (36-0) and followed that with a strong showing against defending Central Coast Sevens champions the Canada Maple Leafs (31-7).

The Cup Final against New Zealand Development saw the girls in gold race into a 24-point lead at half-time with Emma Tonegato notching a hat-trick. The second half was a tighter affair and Emilee Cherry sealed the win to seal the game 31-14.

Women's Head Coach Tim Walsh said: "In last year's final here I felt Canada showed up some real flaws in our game but in the Semi-Final against the Canadians I thought it was the best seven minutes I have seen the girls play. They were smart and took their opportunities well. We've the start of the World Series in Dubai in six weeks time and we're in good shape."

On player of the final Evania Pelite, Walsh added: "She's someone who comes into training each day and works every day like it's a match. Vani had a tremendous impact in many aspects of the game."

Aussie Thunderbolts (Men’s) Sevens results in Central Coast, New South Wales, 24-25 October:

Thunderbolts 36-12 Redrock (Fiji), Pool C

Thunderbolts 38-0 Germany, Pool C

Thunderbolts 33-21 Rangataua (NZ), Pool C

Thunderbolts 12-7 Yamacia (Fiji), Cup Quarter-Final

Thunderbolts 33-7 Wellington (NZ), Cup Semi-Final

Thunderbolts 31-21 Tabadamu (Fiji), Cup Final

Aussie Pearls (Women’s) Sevens results in Central Coast, New South Wales, 24-25 October:

Pearls 29-0 NZ Wasps (NZ), Pool C

Pearls 53-0 Nadi Blazers (Fiji), Pool C

Pearls 37-0 Hunter Women's Sevens (Aus), Pool C

Pearls 36-0 Greater Sydney Rams (Aus), Cup Quarter-Final

Pearls 31-7 Canada Maple Leafs (Can), Cup Semi-Final

Pearls 31-14 NZ Development Team, Cup Final