Small margins the difference at the top: Friend

by Sam Phillips

Through five World Series legs there have been five different Cup winners, a point Australia coach Andy Friend focused on after his side's sixth place finish in Las Vegas.

South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and now USA have each lifted the Cup above their head through the first five tournaments, highlighting the small margins between the top five to six teams on tour.

It was those small margins which cost Australia in the fifth place playoff against New Zealand, according to Friend.

"The last three tournaments and the last three times we have played them we have had a solid win in Sydney, right down to the wire in Hamilton and then again today, it was right down to the wire," Friend said.

"I thought our fellas did really well to get it to extra time.

"We had a chance to win it with that kick but we missed that, we had a chance, they had a chance, we had a chance, they had a chance and they took that last one.

"That’s how Sevens is at the moment.

"It’s disappointing to lose but I loved our fight and historically New Zealand, who have been our nemesis, I feel at the moment we are getting very, very close to that not being the case anymore."

Friend also praised the consistency of the evergreen James Stannard, who was once again of Australia's best in Las Vegas.

"Chucky has been great with the way he has continued to grow his game and his desire to get better as a leader and a football player," Friend said.

"I take my hat off to the man.

"At his age he could easily say he is ready to tail off now but it’s quite the contrary, he’s working really hard and the defensive efforts he is putting in and the way he is carrying the ball into contact, he’s actually looking younger."

Friend will keep the same squad that featured in Las Vegas for the Vancouver leg of the World Series, emerging unscathed on the injury front.