Aussies edge USA in opener

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Australia's men's Sevens lost a crucial moment against the USA, but managed to withhold the Americans in a 26-19 opening win.

The home side conceded a lineout after the full-time whistle and the ball found its way into speedster Calin Isles's hands, but the Aussies held tight and managed to stifle his running line and end the game.

Coach Andy Friend speaks often of the need to win 'moments' in games and though his team coughed up one, he was pleased they maintained composure.

"Yeah definitely we thought on the bench ,'This was our moment,' then we lost the lineout," he said.

"But then we tackled them and got the ball back so I was really pleased with the bench that came on."

The Aussie men have performed beyond expectation in every Sydney World Series leg and they looked a force to be reckoned with again on Friday night.

The night started perfectly for the Australians, with Lachie Anderson breaking the line and handing off to Boyd Killingworth to finish off in the third minute.

Rookie Ben O'Donnell made it two for the Aussies not long after, slipping cleverly through defence, before John Porch showed his pace, streaking away from the American defenders to make it 19-0.

The challenge for the men is to take their momentum through to day two, where they will face Scotland and Canada in a bid for a quarter-final spot.

Super speedster Perry Baker left the Aussies in his wake to hit back in the second half and Martin Iosefo took advantage of a defensive miscommunication to narrow the margin to just five.

A valiant chase from Lewis Holland wasn't enough to stop Ben Pinkelman from levelling the scores in the 11th minute, but Tim Anstee put the Aussies back in the box seat, with a blistering 75-metre run.

When Isles, the only man possibly faster than Baker in the USA side, found the ball after a fumbled Australian lineout, panic could have ensued, but the Aussies' defence stifled the sprinter and they held on for a surprise win.

The Aussie Sevens men opened their campaign on Friday night. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyFriend was full of praise for their opening half effort, but said there was plenty to work on from that second stanza.

"The first seven minutes was some of the best footy we have played," he said.

"But that’s where the possession is everything.

"If you don’t have ball in hand and you're chasing that’s where America is going to hurt you.

"We probably fell asleep a bit there, but I'm pleased the guys can back and managed to score in the end.

"We needed to win that line out, we didn’t but we then shut them down again so pleased with that."

Australia's next pool match is against Canada on Saturday at 5:15pm AEDT.

Take a look at all the day one action in our blog.

RESULT

Australia 26

Tries: Killingworth, O'Donnell, Porch, Anstee

Cons: Stannard 2

USA 19

Tries: Baker, Iosefo, Pinkelman

Cons: Hughes 2