Michael O'Connor's swansong as Qantas Men's Sevens Head Coach ended in heartache after his side pushed the 2013/14 HSBC World Series Champions New Zealand to the limit, eventually falling short in a points-laden Cup Final at the London Sevens.
The 52-33 scoreline in favour of the Kiwis was the highest total amount of points ever recorded in a World Series Cup Final, although it was all Australia for the first half of the first period as they raced into a 21-0 lead as Tom Lucas, Afa Pakalani and Con Foley all scored. Ben Lam and a Scott Curry double hit back for New Zealand to level it up at the break.
The lethal Gillies Kaka gave New Zealand the lead early in the second half but Foley responded again to level it up at 28-28 apiece. Tim Mikkelson, Lam and Kaka restored the advantage for the New Zealanders before Sam Myers crossed for his seventh try of a wonderful tournament for the man from Forbes. Adam Whitelock rounded off the scoring with the last play of the game for the World Series Champions.
Head Coach Michael O'Connor had nothing but praise for his side, the youngest in the IRB World Series. "They've done me and their country proud. I couldn't have asked for much more. New Zealand were just too good, but some of the players are just babies and I do believe they can go to the next level. We have seven starting players injured at the moment, we have got good depth. In the next couple of years, Australia can get up there.
"It was special to hear the national anthem in my last tournament as coach and I'd love to be back here at Twickenham one day as a supporter."
Australia qualified for the Cup Final after silencing Twickenham to beat hosts England 15-12. The green and gold turned in their best half of Sevens of the season to dominate the English in the opening period. Con Foley capitalised on a strong start to cross over early on before a Cameron Clark double gave Australia a 15-0 lead at the break. Unsurprisingly, England hit back in the second period but tries from Tom Mitchell and Dan Norton were ultimately not enough.
Earlier, in the Cup Quarter-Final, Australia disposed of Kenya (12-5). Tom Lucas intercepted a wayward Kenyan pass to give the Aussies an early lead before Sam Myers racked up another try in the first half. Humphrey Kayange responded early for Kenya in the second half.
21-year-old Cameron Clark capped a fine HSBC Sevens World Series season by being named Player of the Tournament at the London Sevens, due reward for his all-round game which also saw him score 44 points for Australia over the weekend. The tireless Sam Myers was also named in the tournament Dream Team after his seven try haul in London.
Elsewhere, England defeated Fiji (26-19) to claim third place, while South Africa comfortably saw off the challenge of Kenya (38-14) to win the Plate Final.
Final placing’s for the London Sevens (top 6): 1. New Zealand (22 World Series points), 2. Australia (19 points), 3. England (17 points), 4. Fiji (15 points), 5. South Africa (13 points), 6. Kenya (12 points)
Final 2013/14 IRB Sevens World Series standings (top 6): 1. New Zealand (180 World Series points), 2. South Africa (152 points), 3. Fiji (144 points), 4. England (134 points), 5. Australia (116 points), 6. Canada (90 points)
Australian Men’s Sevens results in London, England, 10-12 May:
Australia 28-0 Japan, Pool C
Australia 36-0 Spain, Pool C
Australia 24-12 Fiji, Pool C
Australia 12-5 Kenya, Cup Quarter-Final
Australia 15-12 England, Cup Semi-Final
Australia 33-52 New Zealand, Cup Final