Australia has started the Las Vegas Sevens in perfect fashion, with two wins from two starts.
In a pool that also includes Fiji and Scotland, the Aussies started the day expecting to be tested from the outset.
How it unfolded
The day’s action began with a dramatic victory over Scotland 28-21, with the returning Nick Malouf providing an early highlight, running a try over in reply to Scotland’s first.
Young Lachie Anderson then scored a second-half double which, with the help of James Stannard’s accurate boot, levelled the scores as the game drew to a close.
Ed Jenkins ran in a desperate injury time try snatching victory for the Aussies.
With an opening win secured, Australia faced Japan in its second and final match of the day.
Japan had most of the early possession and got the first try on the scoreboard, but it was not long before Tom Lucas got his first of the day and the season, having only returned to the team this weekend from a long-term injury.
Anderson, followed up his first-game double with a try just before half-time to give Australia the lead 12-7.
Despite some strong work in defence by Japan after the break, Anderson got past them to rack up his fourth for the day.
Japan made a last effort to close the gap but time was against them. Australia holding on for a 19-12 win.
As it stands, Australia, Fiji, South Africa, USA, England and New Zealand are all on two wins from two games on day one and will therefore progress through to the quarter-finals despite having one group game left to play.
Reaching the quarter-finals each tournament is a goal Aussie coach Andy Friend has set for his young team this season, with the side hitting the mark in three of five tournaments.
“It’s nice to be in this position, the boys have worked hard for that, but we now want to try and top the pool if we can,” he said.
While Tim Anstee put his hand up in Sydney last month with some outstanding performances, Friend was also suitably impressed with another of his young players on day one in Las Vegas.
“I thought Lachie (Anderson) was really impressive. He came on and was just rising to the occasion every time which is tremendous - and four tries in two games is a great effort,” he said.
The coach was pleased with the boys overall, particularly their composure under pressure.
“They worked hard doing the simple things and that was good,” he said.
“I thought the composure they showed and the work rate they showed was outstanding. The young blokes came off the bench and kept their heads, got the job done – which is really impressive.”
Fiji is not only the current World and Olympics Champion it is also the reigning USA Sevens title holder and has returned to Las Vegas with a determination to retain that honour.
So Day Two will begin with a bang for the Aussies when they take on the might of this championship team but the coach believes his players are up to the challenge.
“We want to have a real crack at Fiji. Every time you get an opportunity to play the Olympic Gold medallists, you need to lift your game and we have that as a real focus for us tomorrow morning,” said Andy Friend.
The young Aussie team has again achieved the key objective set by the coach at the start of the season and is looking more confident through the performance of its players with each outing.
HSBC Sevens World Series, Las Vegas, day one
Australia 28 - Scotland 21
Australia 19 -Japan 12
Day Two fixture
Pool match - Australia vs Fiji – 8.50 am AEDT
Matches will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports One 501 from 8.20am AEDT