Aussies fall short at Oceania Sevens

by Sam Phillips

New Zealand have brought an end to both Australian tilts at Oceania Sevens glory in a dramatic final day in Suva.

Torrential rain plagued finals day and it caused delays to the scheduled matches, forcing such a short turnaround for Samoa that they declined to play in the third place playoff against Australia in the Men's Cup fixture.

Earlier, the Australian men were well beaten by a dominant New Zealand outfit in their Cup semi-final, with the Australian women falling seven points short against the Kiwis in the women's Cup final.

Here's how all the action panned out throughout the day.


Women's Cup final - New Zealand 12 Australia 5

The Kiwis controlled all the early ball and a botched lineout after a Charlotte Caslick try saver gifted New Zealand their first try of the match.

Australia finally got their hands on the ball with two to play in the first term but a wayward pass gave New Zealand the ball back on halfway, the scrappy conditions heavily contributing to the one try first term.

Australia could not get string any significant phase play together, sloppy handling giving New Zealand repeated opportunities and the Kiwis made them pay, Gayle Broughton slicing the line from 30 out to put her side up 12-0 with three to play.

Australia finally cracked the New Zealand line but it was all too late, the final siren sounding as Vani Pelite scored a consolation try.


The Men's third place playoff between Australia and Samoa has been cancelled.

The game was rescheduled after the rain delay and Samoa were not happy with the short turnaround time, declining to take part in the match.


Men's Cup semi final - New Zealand 31 Australia 0

New Zealand were too strong for Australia. Photo: Oceania RugbyAustralia's quest for a fourth straight preseason Cup title has been stopped dead in its tracks by a red hot New Zealand side.

The Kiwis led 12-0 at the break after a tight first term and up against in the second half, Australia chased the game and were made to pay the price.

The experience gap between the two sides, with Australia taking a largely development 12 to Suva, showed in the second term.

The torrential rain which delayed play made for slippery conditions and New Zealand's hands were sharper, putting together plenty of phases and proving too good for the Australians.

They will now face the loser of Fiji and Samoa in the second Cup semi final.


Women's Cup semi final - Australia 25 PNG 7

Australia will face New Zealand in the Oceania 7s final, putting together a clinical second half to beat PNG 25-7 in their Cup semi final.

PNG pinched the opening kickoff and put the Aussies on the back foot immediately, scoring under the posts to open up a 7-0 break.

That early try appeared to have rattled the Australians, as they searched for holes in the PNG line without much success.PNG gave Australia some trouble in Suva. Photo: Oceania RugbyPushed passes followed and the attack was stagnant, though PNG weren’t able to generate any significant threat in attack, either.

It took some ill discipline from PNG close to their line for Australia to get their first try, Charlotte Caslick taking the initiative and palming off a defender en route to her first five pointer of the day, sending the Aussies into the sheds down 7-5.

The heavens opened as the second half kicked off and some poor hands from PNG gave Caslick the chance to put Quirk away for the try that put Australia in front, quickly followed by an outstanding, athletic finish from Emma Tonegato to put the Aussies up 15-7.

The rain accentuated the gap in skills between these two sides, as Quirk and Emma Sykes showed a perfect pair of hands to throw pinpoint passes and create the space for Tonegato to score her second.

Shannon Parry scored on the siren to seal the result, a much improved second half getting Australia over the line.

They'll face New Zealand at 5:06pm AEDT in the Cup final.


Men's Cup quarter final - Australia 22 PNG 21

Tom Connor was the beneficiary of PNG dropping the opening kickoff, brushing two defenders en route to the first try of the day.

Sam Croke saved a try as PNG threatened the Australian line with a desperate scrambling tackle but ill discipline cost Croke and co when PNG scored after a beautiful set play from a penalty 10 out from the Australian line.

Nicky Price and the Aussie Men's Sevens are through to a Cup semi final. Photo: Zoom FijiAustralia hit back immediately, some quality defence from Jeral Skelton forcing PNG into a turnover, Brandon Quinn taking the quick tap and finding an unmarked Matt McTaggart to put his side back in front.

Quinn split the line from 40 out after Australia won the ball from the ensuing kickoff to score, giving the Aussies a 17-7 lead at the break.

PNG hammered the Australian line for the first four minutes of the second term but they absorbed the pressure, released Matthew Hood from turnover ball and Daniel Martine scored to put the result beyond doubt, with PNG scoring two late tries to finish within a point of a big upset.

Australia is now through to the semi-finals, which kick off at 1pm AEDT.