Oceania 7s: Aussie men through to qualification final

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australia's men will face Samoa in a winner-takes-all Oceania Sevens final after topping their Oceania Sevens pool on Friday.

The Aussies finished their pool games with a dominant 24-0 win over Tonga, putting them on a collision path with fellow undefeated side Samoa on the final day of competition.

Only the winner of the tournament will nab that elusive Tokyo Olympic spot, with the second and third-placed teams relegated to a global repechage to be played in June of 2020.

It's a match for which the team has been gearing up for months and coach Tim Walsh said they absolutely had to make sure their long lead-in paid off on Saturday.

"It's one of those things where you know it's there but it seems like a long way away and now it's finally here, so it's holding that composure and that excitement as well," he said.

"I think the team's in good shape and really looking forward to it.

"The preparation always breeds the confidence but the preparation only gives you the opportunity to perform at your best.

"The preparation we've done has given us that, so it's  up to us to execute."

Australia never looked like losing their final game of the pool stages, though Tonga put some heat on them in the back end of the game.

Ben O'Donnell opened Australia's account with a quickfire try and Lachie Anderson added a second not long after.

Jack Maddocks scored the Aussies' third of the opening half to open up a 19-0 lead at the break and put themselves in the box seat to top their pool.

Tonga came out firing in the second half, putting pressure on the Australian defence from the get go.

The Aussies stood up to the challenge as Tonga continued to pepper their defensive zone,  but they were unable to create any attacking chances for themselves.

A breakdown penalty deep in their own territory gave Australia the chance to exit cleanly and one more opportunity to build an attacking chance.

It was a chance they made the most of with Simon Kennewell busting through the Tongan defence and putting Ben O'Donnell over with the final play of the afternoon.

Australian men's coach Tim Walsh said he was pleased with the way his team handled their most difficult pool stage challenge, finishing the day with a clean sheet.

"It was a different intensity to the first three games and that's what we expected," he said.

"Tonga were certain up for it and it had that semi final feel about it, which ultimately it was, but the most pleasing thing around today was our defence - effective tackles, players on the floor and we didn't let any of the opposition score which is nice."

The Aussies did suffer an injury blow on day two with Josh Coward picking up a hamstring injury, bringing Jesse Parahi into the fray.

Australia will take on Samoa at 3:36pm AEDT on Saturday in the final.

RESULT

Australia 24

Tonga 0

3:27pm - WOMEN - AUSTRALIA VS JAPAN

Australia’s women have finished day two of their Oceania tournament undefeated after a 28-10 win over Japan.

Georgia Hannaway made a superb break in the second minute and a perfectly-time offload put Hagig Mosby over.

Japan replied almost immediately, with some hot potato offloading eventually opening up a space for them to run into and score.

Hannaway topped her first effort with a sensational individual try, just escaping the grasp of a Japanese defender hot on her heels.

Japan struck first in the second half, breaking the line to score and narrow the margin to two points.

Madison Ashby started and finished Australia’s third try, winning a breakdown penalty and running a superb support line off Faith Nathan to score.

Nathan had the final say on the game with a try in the last minute to secure the win.

RESULT

Australia 28

Japan 10

12:55pm - MEN -AUSTRALIA vs AMERICAN SAMOA

Australia’s men will face off against Tonga for top spot in their Oceania Sevens pool after a 66-0 win over American Samoa.

With one match remaining, Australia sit undefeated at the top of their pool with Tonga set to face Nauru in their second-last pool game.

Captain Lewis Holland had the first try of the afternoon in the opening minute.

Jack Maddocks burnt a defender on the outside for their second, continuing a promising start to his Sevens career in Suva.

Holland put Maurice Longbottom through a gap and the halfback put Nick Malouf over for another.

Malouf was across the line from the next restart, collecting a long-range cutout pass from Holland.

A turnover opened the door for Longbottom to score his own five-pointer and give the Aussies a 31-point lead at the break.

Henry Hutchison struck first after the break, finishing some superb attack from Lachie Anderson and Ben O’Donnell.

Holland stepped around an opponent to nab his second and Australia’s dominance was compounded with a yellow card for American Samoa.

Josh Coward scored two tries in as many minutes as the game went on.

Hutchison sealed the result in the final minute, weaving through the defence to score his second. Australia plays Tonga at 4:58pm AEDT in their final pool match.

RESULT

Australia 66

American Samoa 0

11:30am - WOMEN - AUSTRALIA VS NEW ZEALAND

Australia’s women have taken a second win at the Oceania invitational beating New Zealand 17-5.

While the Aussie women looked clinical in attack, it was their defence that proved game-defining, denying New Zealand on a host of occasions.

New Zealand looked dangerous early after regathering their own kick off but a neck roll saw them handed a yellow card. The Kiwis won possession back and after some patient attack opened up a gap on the left edge to score first.

Georgia Hannaway stepped around the New Zealand defensive line to score her first of the tournament and hand Australia the lead.

The Australian defence was tested late in the first half but some desperate tackling kept the Kiwis out of scoring range.

New Zealand looked to strike first in the second half but again Australia’s defence created headaches for their opponents.

A penalty against Australia looked as though it had opened the door for New Zealand but a Demi Hayes tackle forced a knock-on over the line.

Australia made the most of their first attacking chance, with Madison Ashby working into a gap and sprinting away for Australia’s second.

The hooter sounded with Australia ahead but Sariah Paki wasn’t satisfied with that, scooping up a loose ball and turning on the afterburners to score.

The women will play in the international final at 2:30pm AEDT on Saturday.

RESULT

Australia 17

New Zealand 5

SCHEDULE

Friday November 8

Men

12:34pm - Australia vs America Samoa

4:58pm - Australia vs Tonga

Women

11:06am - Australia vs New Zealand

3:08pm - Australia vs Japan