Qantas Australian Men's Sevens Head Coach Geraint John has lauded his charges after they recorded their second top-three finish in consecutive weeks.
Australia finished third in Port Elizabeth to go with their runner-up spot last weekend in Dubai as John's side cemented a top-four spot in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens
World Series standings. After seeing off the challenge of Fiji (31-19), they fell to eventual winners and new series leaders South Africa (10-19) in the Cup Semi-Final. Australia then saw off Argentina (34-19) in the 3rd/4th Place Play-Off.
Australian outside back Pama Fou scored 11 tries for the weekend and was deservedly named in the South African Sevens Player of the Tournament.
"I thought we played really well today," said Head Coach Geraint John. "The key for us after the last two weeks we have had is to keep on building on what we have been working on. It's been successful [the tournaments in Dubai and Port Elizabeth], but we can't give anything up now or we will have other countries breathing down our necks.
"But the good tournaments we have had in the past two weeks are testament to the whole playing squad, not just the 12 who are here. Everyone should take credit for the work they have put in and the way in which everyone has pushed each other.
"In the Cup Semi-Final against South Africa, I felt we controlled the first half. But the reality is that they are the benchmark side in the World Series at the moment and any errors - however small - are capitalised upon. But I have to praise the character of the boys to recover from that disappointment and put in a performance full of character in the 3rd Place Play-Off against Argentina, particularly with the tight turnaround."
On the performance of Pama Fou, John added: "He's had a positive weekend, that's for sure. People will probably forget he could have had a few more tries had he played the game against Zimbabwe (a 50-0 victory) on Saturday so he'll go away very, very confident from this."
The Aussies qualified for the Cup Semi-Finals after stunning previous World Series leaders Fiji for the second week in a row. Despite falling behind early on, a Pama Fou double and Cameron Clark gave the green and gold a healthy 12 point advantage at the break. Back-to-back tries right at the start of the second half from Vatemo Ravouvou and Savenaca Rawaca gave Fiji a narrow lead, but Pama Fou completed his hat-trick before skipper Ed Jenkins capitalised on a cheeky James Stannard grubber to seal a berth in the last four.
In the Semi-Final itself against South Africa in front of a vocal local crowd, it was Australia that dominated the opening stanza. Ed Jenkins finished off a sweeping move to give the green and gold the lead before Pama Fou dotted down on the left wing to double his sides advantage. Inevitably, the hosts came out fired up for the second half and hit back with tries from Branco du Preez, Kyle Brown and Werner Kok to put the tie out of reach.
Against a team fast threatening to become its bogey side in the World Series - Argentina - Australia raced into a 19-point lead with tries from Pama Fou, Ed Jenkins and Nick Malouf. However, three back-to-back tries saw the South Americans level the scores. However, Pama Fou sealed his hat-trick as he bagged another double - his 10th and 11th of a stellar weekend - to put his side back in front. Tom Cusack finished off late on to seal a thrilling win.
Elsewhere at the Port Elizabeth Sevens, South Africa beat New Zealand (26-17) to take over at the top of the World Series standings, while the USA shocked Fiji (21-14) to win the Plate and finish fifth. Australia sit fourth on the ladder and have opened up a six-point gap over fifth-placed Argentina.
The next round of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series heads to Wellington in New Zealand on the weekend of 6-7 February as all competing countries go in search of a top-four finish that will guarantee qualification for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 13-15 December:
Australia 33-21 Portugal, Pool B
Australia 50-0 Zimbabwe, Pool B
Australia 21-31 Argentina, Pool B
Australia 31-19 Fiji, Cup Quarter-Final
Australia 10-19 South Africa, Cup Semi-Final
Australia 34-19 Argentina, 3rd / 4th Place Play-Off
Final placings for the South Africa Sevens (Top 6): 1. South Africa (22 World Series points), 2. New Zealand (19 points), 3. Australia (17 points), 4. Argentina (15 points), 5. USA (13 points), 6. Fiji (12 points)
Current standings in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series after three rounds (Top 6): 1. South Africa (59 World Series points), 2. Fiji (51 points) 3. New Zealand (47 points) 4. Australia (46 points) 5. Argentina (40 points) 6. England (37 points)