Canada Sevens: Controversial finish can't put a dampener on Manenti's pride

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Aussie Sevens coach John Manenti says a controversial final call wasn't going to overshadow the pride he has in his side's silver-medal performance at the Canada Sevens.

The Aussies went down to New Zealand 21-17 in a heartbreaking Cup final in Langford that was decided in the final moments.

Trailing by two conversions in the final minute, Australia had a chance to mount an attacking charge from the restart but a knock-on was ruled in their attempt to gather the kick and recycle ball.

That decision gave the ball back to New Zealand who kicked it out to end the match.

Manenti wasn’t dwelling on that controversy but admitted he would have liked to see them have that final opportunity, given their strong finish in the teams’ last clash in Japan last month.

“It’s unfortunate that could have been potentially our last use of the ball and we know in Kitakyushu we scored 21 points against them in the last three minutes so we would’ve loved the the last crack but it wasn’t to be,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter now and we’ve got to live it. If I was being harsh, you could say if we should have been better in our defensive systems to give ourselves a better crack.

“Their tries were all  under the goal post and ours were out wide as well. I think it’s a significant step forward for us but obviously we’re still a bit disappointed.”

Though the tournament ended in disappointment, it was an important one for Australia in their bid for an automatic Olympic spot.

With 74 series points, they sit in fourth and 14 points ahead of Canada semi-finalists France.

With a maximum of 20 points on offer for any individual team in the final 2018-19 leg in Biarritz, Australia needs just to ensure they make the Cup semi-finals in France to secure a Tokyo spot.

Manenti had deliberately maintained the same squad of 12 as that which finished sixth in Kitakyushu in a bid to encourage redemption and that paid off with an obvious improvement in Canada.

“There were definitely benefits in keeping the group together,they’ve had more time together, it’s the first time the same group has played back-to-back for a while,” he said.

“I think they responded well to that challenge.

“It was a tough run through - had to beat the home team to top our pool, it was a tough quarter-final against Russia and France were fighting for their lives going into that semi-final with Olympic spots on the line.”


Australia’s women have been heavily reliant on their younger players in an injury-plagued season but it was the experienced trio of Ellia Green, Emma Tonegato and Charlotte Caslick

Green kept Australia in the game against New Zealand while Tonegato notched up her 100th career try in the semi-final against France and Caslick was impressive in defence and attack.

“Ellia and Emma, especially, they’re all world-class attacking weapons and the plan was be tough in defence and then those weapons would get us over the line and that worked in most cases.

“In the last game they gave us a shot with some great defence unfortunately it is what it is and we’re just proud of the improvement and plenty to go go to Biarritz confident we can take on any team and finish with a win.”

Evania Pelite played little part in the final day of play after twinging her hamstring but Manenti said he was confident she would be back in action for the final tournament in Biarritz.

Aside from Pelite, Manenti said a little dose of heartbreak was their only wound from the weekend.

The Biarritz Sevens kicks off on June 15.