Injuries mar Aussie Sevens quarter-finals berth

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia has secured a Hong Kong Sevens Cup quarter-final berth but their progressions was marred by a growing injury list on day two of the tournament.

Australia will face England on Sunday in their critical clash but their qualification came with  a sour note, as the injuries piled up on day two.

A comprehensive 45-7 win over Portugal to start day two, sparked by a hat-trick to youngster John Porch,  looked positive for Australia but the match also spelled the end of the tournament for Lewis Holland and Nick Cummins.

The pair will miss a month with their injuries, but are set to return for the final two legs of the series.

Those losses coupled with the pre-tournament withdrawal of Tom Kingston, left them with just 10 fit players for their clash with fifth-placed USA.

Though they had already secured a quarter-final berth, Australia  had to draw on all of its grit against the American speedsters and showed their character to edge out the improving side.

It proved to be too hard a task, with Australia suffering their first loss of the tournament against the USA, 22-7.

Allan Fa’alava’au found the line first for the Aussies giving them some early optimism, but it proved to be their only score of the game.

A Madison Hughes try just shy of half-time left the Aussies trailing 12-7 at the break, before two second-half tries, to Perry Baker and Ben Pinkelman sealed the Americans' win.

Men's Sevens coach Andy Friend said he was disappointed with their final match but pragmatic about their performances.

"We were disappointing in that final game [against the USA]," he said.

"I don't think we were clinical and we didn't respect the ball - and you can't be winning games without the ball. It's a big wake-up call for us.

"That said, when you qualify from a pool that includes sides that are ranked four, five and six in the world standings then we can't be too down on ourselves."

Saturday’s  injuries add to an already long casualty list, with Pama Fou (shoulder), Tom Cusack (wrist), Tom Lucas (knee), Pat McCutcheon (hamstring), Nick Malouf (knee), Simon Kennewell (ankle), Greg Jeloudev (foot) and Henry Speight (eye) all unavailable.

Australia is looking to crack the top three for the fourth tournament in a row, after two Cup finals and third place finish in Sydney, Las Vegas and Vancouver.

Australia will play its final eight match against England  on Sunday at 2:04pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.