Australia claim Plate win to end weekend on a high

by staff

Qantas Men's Sevens coach Mick O'Connor praised the never-say-die-attitude of his side after Australia came from behind to defeat an experienced Canadian outfit in the Plate Final and move up to fifth in the HSBC Sevens World Series standings.

Australia had earlier bowed out of the Cup competition after a gruelling Quarter-Final against South Africa in driving rain, before wins over Argentina and Canada secured 13 competition points.

"Canada are a terrific side, but I have to take my hat off to my boys," said O'Connor. "They never know when to give up. They're a really promising group of players and I really hope we can keep them together for another couple of years.

"We're always under pressure to perform. We want to do well, particularly with Olympic qualification coming up. We want to build our position on the standings as it has really important implications. Let's also not forget we have the Commonwealth Games in Scotland later this year, too. These are exciting times for us as a group."

In the 10-0 defeat to South Africa, the Aussies simply couldn't get enough quality ball in dangerous areas to cause the BlitzBokke enough problems. One try apiece for Cecil Afrika and Werner Kok in the second half consigned the green and gold to defeat.

It was the Shannon Walker show as O'Connor's side booked a place in the Plate Final with a thumping 34-0 win over Argentina. Speed-king Walker scored a first half hat-trick and layed on another try for Cameron Clark as Australia built a sizable lead. Clark again, and an Ed Jenkins double, sealed the win to line up a clash with the Canadians.

In the Plate Final itself, the Aussies got off to the worst possible start when they slumped to a ten point deficit at the break in greasy conditions. However, Peter Schuster halved the deficit with four minutes left on the clock before Ed Jenkins levelled the scores after the siren. An ice-cool Cameron Clark knocked the conversion to give Australia a 12-10 win.

Captain for the weekend, Con Foley, was happy with how the weekend finished after a tough start to Day Two.

"I'm over the moon. To come back from 10-0 down in the second half against a side like Canada is really pleasing.

"It's a tough stadium to play in. We don't usually get much support here!" said the 21-year-old from Queensland University. "We had a disappointing result this morning but to bounce back with two wins, yeah we're pretty happy.

"The conditions were pretty tough out there. Possession and territory are key. We adapted pretty well. It's good to find a bit of form and hopefully soon enough we'll be out of the Plate, and in some Cup Finals very soon."

New Zealand returned to the top of the HSBC Sevens World Series standings after clinically disposing of South Africa in the Cup Final, while Fiji defeated England with the last play of the game to finish third in the Wellington Sevens tournament.