Las Vegas Sevens: Defensive strength sees Aussies unbeaten on day one

Mens - Las Vegas
by RUGBY.com.au

Australia have overpowered Wales and Scotland on day one of the Las Vegas sevens, and will progress to the finals.

They meet Fiji in their last pool match on Sunday. Here is how the action unfolded. 

1.25pm: AUSTRALIA 24 SCOTLAND 12

Some Ben O’Donnell magic and two second-half tries from John Porch have helped the Australian sevens team beat Scotland, stay undefeated and book a place in the quarter-finals in Las Vegas.

After dispatching Wales earlier in the day, the Aussies lined up against a dangerous Scotland team, who had to win to be a hope of progressing to the playoffs.

A loss would have seen Australia likely having to beat Fiji tomorrow to make the finals, so the tension kicked in when the teams were locked at 12-all at halftime.

But Australia found the composure and ruthlessness they’ve been searching for, and on the back of a muscular defence, pushed away in the second half to win via two Porch tries.


The Aussies will still be aiming to beat Fiji in their last pool match on day two - Las Vegas runs an unusual three-day schedule - so they have the best chance of avoiding New Zealand in their quarter.

With the Las Vegas field notoriously narrow - up to 12 metres tighter than some fields on the circuit - the Aussies had been training on the same width pitches in Sydney, and given the reduced acreage for speedsters and steppers, focussing heavily on defence.

That paid off on day one, and against Scotland early, in particular.

Smothering defence held the Scots on their own line and a turnover eventually saw Henry Hutchison score.

The speed of Max McFarland - and two rare missed tackles - helped Scotland respond, and when Porch was binned for a late tackle, the Scots took advantage of the extra man to score a second.

A man down, the Aussie team played smart footy and stayed very narrow, near support and with the aim of dragging a few extra Scots into the ruck.

They scored on halftime when the mulleted O’Donnell pulled off some 'bogan brilliance’, riding two tackles and popping a Fijian style back-flick to Jeral Skelton for a five pointer.

The second half saw big Jesse Parahi step with some inspirational runs.


The Scots couldn’t contain Parahi’s powerful charges up the middle and he helped create the space Porch to score early in the second half.

With more strong defence work, and good contact at the ruck, the Aussies gave Scotland no room to breathe. Eventually O’Donnell laid another for Porch and the game was won.

"We played really well in the first game and continued that,” coach Tim Walsh said.

"Our defence and our ruck were the reason behind the win. We were able to build some phases in attack, and do the simple things well."

 

10.15am: AUSTRALIA 26 WALES 0

Australia has cruised to an opening victory at the Las Vegas sevens by dispatching Wales in a 26-0 victory.

The four-try victory was built off the back of sustained pressure and some excellent defence; a template the Aussies will hope to repeat throughout the pool rounds.

Powerful running by Jeral Skelton opened up the field for Lewis Holland to score the first try after just a minute, but the Aussies struggled to find a second for much of the first half as good territory and possession was undone by a couple of red-zone mistakes.

The pressure told on Wales, eventually, however, when Lewis Holland broke down the right side and found Brandon Quinn in support for a second try on the stroke of halftime.

Wales lost a man to the sin bin for a high tackle and the Aussies made them pay, with Ben O’Donnell loosening up his legs in the extra space and Henry Hutchison stepping over for a third try.

Excellent defence didn’t let Wales get any forward momentum, and another O’Donnell run helped Jesse Parahi get free and find John Porch for a try.

The Australians play Scotland next up at 1pm (AEDT).

SCHEDULE

Saturday March 2

10am - Australia vs Wales

1:01pm – Australia vs Scotland

Sunday March 3

6:52am – Fiji vs Australia

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