Las Vegas Sevens : Walsh wants fearless efforts from Aussie men after equal-seventh finish

Mens - Las Vegas
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Aussie Sevens were left to lament an opportunity gone begging in Las Vegas and coach Tim Walsh says a fear-filled cup quarter-final performance against Samoa was the turning point in an ultimately disappointing tournament.

Australia finished equal-seventh in Vegas after losing their fifth-place semi-final to England, less than a day after bearing Fiji in the pool stages, while Samoa went on to play in the cup final.

"We're quite disappointed as we are when we lose and we play our hearts out or we play without fear, you can take that but the most disappointing thing about that Samoa game is that we played with fear.

"We were looking for someone else to do it, we were waiting for something to happen and Samoa sort of we beat ourselves. Samoa, to an extent, imploded due to our pressure and we had our opportunity to win the game, move on to the semi-final against Argentina and then no doubt into the final against USA but we failed to deliver in the moment."

Captain Lewis Holland was suspended for a dangerous tackle against Fiji in their final pool game, forcing him out of the final two matches of the tournament.

Holland will also be missing for the first game of next weekend's Vancouver Sevens and Walsh said his absence had an obvious impact on the team.

The Aussie Sevens need to find more consistency. Photo: World Rugby"Clearly it did because Lewi's a strong leader and he has a tremendous impact on the way we play," he said.

"I thought against Fiji he was probably the difference but it's no excuse for our performance.

"You're always going to get injuries and suspensions and yellow cards as much as you want to avoid it but he was missed out there and that's where those other guys, other players need to take the game by the scruff of the neck."

Liam McNamara and Ben O'Donnell stepped into the ball-playing role normally filled by Holland but Walsh said his skipper's absence exposed the need for extra depth in that area.

"Liam McNamara had a really good game against England," he said.

"He had a good game against Samoa but in the clutch moments he was still sort of waiting for something to happen as opposed to the guys making it happen and that's probably the biggest thing.

"He hasn't had to do that before. He's always had Chucky (James Stannard)and EJ (Ed Jenkins) and Lewi and BOD's the same.

"BOD was thrown into that ball playing role as well.

"Tremendous player and world-class player but having to produce a different area of his game and that's where the growth of all those guys in integral to moving forward and they will embrace it and take that role.

"From a silver lining point of view, it's an experience that they've been thrust into and now they've had a taste of it."

The World Series goes to Vancouver next week and Walsh will be contemplating changes for that tournament, with Joe Pincus, Sam Myers, Dylan Pietsch and Hayden Sargeant in North America, playing an invitational tournament.

8:16am - Australia 14 - England 33

Australia's men will finish equal seventh after a 33-14 loss to England in their fifth-place semi-final.

Nick Malouf found a gap in the first minute but with no support runners, it was a territory gain and little more.

Liam McNamara was able to finish just 30 seconds later after a bullocking Simon Kennewell offloaded to his speedy teammate.

England veteran Dan Norton responded immediately all on his own, stepping through the Australian defensive line for a runaway try.

Henry Hutchison had Australia's second with two minutes left in the opening half, book ending a play in which Kennewell also played a key role.

Their lead lasted less than a minute with England replying through Will Edwards to level things up at the break.

It was England who struck first in the second half with a try to Will Muir 45 seconds in and Australia's pain was compounded as Jesse Parahi was yellow-carded for dangerous contact.

Muir pounced with a superb solo try against a six-man Aussie outfit as England began to pull away.

English rookie Ryan Olowofela had a rare win over Ben O'Donnell, outpacing the Aussie star, to score the sealer.

It's a disappointing finish for the side who beat Fiji in their final pool game on Sunday (AEDT) before going down in their cup quarter-final to Samoa.

The tour goes to Vancouver next week.