Australia has been knocked out of the Gold Coast Sevens Fever Pitch tournament by New Zealand – suffering the same semi-final disappointment that the Qantas Wallabies encountered at the Rugby World Cup last month.
After reaching the last four with a courageous quarter-final victory over Samoa, the Australians were unable to sustain their run in the opening round of the HSBC Sevens World Series at Skilled Park, going down 26-7 to the tournament favourites.
The New Zealand Sevens side was in control from the outset, with playmaker Tomasi Cama scoring after two minutes, and adding a second try midway through the first half.
When Frank Halai powered across for a third New Zealand try seconds before the break, the Kiwis had opened a substantial 19-0 lead.
The fourth New Zealand try to Charles Piutau, five minutes into the second stanza, sealed the result, with the Australia grabbing a consolation try in the dying stages from Sean McMahon.
“I’m disappointed,” said Australian coach Michael O’Connor. “I thought the guys tried hard and they scrambled well in defence.
“But it was a good indication that this New Zealand side is pretty special.
“Hopefully our boys learnt a lot from that and while you’re never happy to lose, the start we have made to the series here – it’s better than we’ve had in the past in reaching the semi-finals of the opening tournament.”
O’Connor said he was impressed with the Fever Pitch event.
“I personally have really enjoyed it. It’s an absolutely fantastic stadium and the music, the entertainment and the vibe has been second to none.”
In the other semi-final, Fiji defeated South Africa 24-7 after leading 19-0 at halftime to set up a title decider against New Zealand later tonight.
Results to date on Day 2
Quarter-final Bowl: Tonga 7 Kenya 5
Quarter-final Bowl: Argentina 38 Japan 12
Quarter-final Bowl: Scotland 36 Niue 0
Quarter-final Bowl: USA 24 Papua New Guinea 5
Quarter-final Cup: New Zealand 24 England 14
Quarter-final Cup: Australia 14 Samoa 12
Quarter-final Cup: Fiji 33 Wales 5
Quarter-final Cup: South Africa 14 France 5
Semi-final Shield: Japan 19 Kenya 14
Semi-final Shield: Papua New Guinea 38 Niue 0
Semi-final Bowl: Argentina 24 Tonga 15
Semi-final Bowl: Scotland 19 USA 5
Semi-final Plate: Samoa 14 England 12
Semi-final Plate: Wales 14 France 12
Semi-final Cup: New Zealand 26 Australia 7
Semi-final Cup: Fiji 24 South Africa 7
Shield Final: Japan v Papua New Guinea (6.00pm local time)
Bowl Final: Argentina v Scotland (6.30pm local time)
Plate Final: Samoa v Wales (7.00pm local time)
3rd/4th Playoff: Australia v South Africa (7.30pm local time)
Cup Final: New Zealand v Fiji (8.00pm local time)