The Men’s Sevens team has begun the Cape Town tournament in disappointing fashion coming up against an ever dominant South Africa and a USA team which seemed determined to make amends for a poor showing in Dubai.
There was little doubt the Americans would front up on Day One with strong determination and a point to prove – and prove it they did with Australia as the first casualty.
From the outset in Australia’s first game, the USA commanded most of the possession and when speedster Perry Baker intercepted a poor pass from Adams and ran all the way to the try line, the tone seemed to be set for the 19-0 defeat dished out to the Australians.
Although the score at the break was just 7-0, the second USA try within a minute of the second half kick-off seemed to give the opposition the momentum it needed and when Tomasin ran across the line for their third, Australia quickly found itself behind the eight-ball when the final siren sounded as a win against the USA was crucial in the dynamics of Pool A.
Australia coach Andy Friend believes the opportunities were there but so were the errors.
“We started really poorly. We had multiple chances against the USA but there were simple errors and simple turnovers and we paid the penalty for that,” he said.
The clean sheet loss to the USA meant Australia not only needed to defeat Russia in Game 2 but would have to cause a major upset against the reigning champions in the final game of the day in order to progress through to the Cup quarter finals.
Australia performed well in the match against Russia beginning the game with more focus. Jesse Parahi had the first try on the board within the first minute, followed quickly by one from Ed Jenkins.
In what seemed to be a reverse of fortunes from the first game, Australia had most of the possession and used it well with Stannard finding a gap in the defence and going in for a try behind the goals giving the Aussies a 17-0 lead at the break.
21 year old Charlie Taylor scored his first of the weekend in the early part of the second half, adding to the double he scored in Dubai on debut. When Myers and Van der Walt both put in tries the team’s confidence looked up and they managed to keep Russia scoreless, taking the game 36-0.
The last game of the day in front of a noisy, bipartisan crowd was always going to be a challenge for Australia and it became immediately evident that tensions were running high on the field and the game had a very physical edge.
The Blitzbokke got early possession and capitalised on it with Snyman, Brown and Afrika getting tries in the first half to have the hosts up 17-0 at the break.
The second half began as the first had ended with the South African captain going in for his second try of the match.
Eventually Australia’s captain returned the favour and scored what was to be the Aussies’ only try following some great footwork by Henry Hutchison to push the defence, before off-loading to Sam Myers.
In the end, South Africa proved too hard to contain once they had the ball with even their big man Ruhan Nel showed some pace in a run to the try line to seal the win 29-7.
Australia’s coach Andy Friend said the team is disappointed with the day’s performance.
“The USA start without a doubt was poor. We had multiple chances but just couldn’t finish them.”
“We were a lot better against Russia but then came out and had a very spirited game against South Africa and the score-line, I don’t think, reflected the game. South Africa is a good enough side that if you give them enough possession, you’re going to pay the penalty for that,” said Friend.
Australia will play Uganda as the first match of Day Two in the Challenge Trophy quarter-final and Friend says the goal is to go as far as they can.
“Ideally now the best we can come is ninth, so our target is to come ninth,” he said.
“For me this day will be remembered because we didn’t make the most of our opportunities and so we’re not in a quarter final.”
Australia v Uganda, kick off 7:36pm AEDT
Day Two of the Cape Town Sevens will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 502 from 7:30pm AEDT
HSBC Sevens World Series, Cape Town, Day One
Australia 0-19 USA
Australia 36-0 Russia
Australia 7-29 South Africa
South Africa 28 USA 10
Australia 36 Russia 0
South Africa 41 Russia 0
Australia 0 USA 19
USA 26 Russia 17
South Africa 29 Australia 7
Fiji 28 Kenya 22
France 50 Japan 7
Fiji 33 Japan 7
France 14 Kenya 33
Kenya 24 Japan 5
Fiji 28 France 19
England 19 Argentina 14
New Zealand 19 Canada 19
England 33 Canada 10
New Zealand 26 Argentina 12
Argentina 43 Canada 14
England 7 New Zealand 33
Wales 21 Scotland 24
Samoa 29 Uganda 5
Wales 17 Samoa 0
Scotland 38 Uganda 7
Wales 29 Uganda 7
Scotland 21 Samoa 19