Dubai Sevens: Aussie men knocked out after quarter-final loss to Samoa

Mens - Dubai
by Emma Greenwood

Australia's men have been knocked out of the Dubai Sevens by a Samoan outfit playing for a country in crisis.

With a state of emergency in place in Samoa due to a measles epidemic that has killed at least 65 people, emotions are running high in the Samoan team, with the players dedicating their 19-14 win to those at home.

 

Australia had been among the form sides in Dubai and while they took a lead to halftime, could not hold Samoa out in the second half after having a man sent to the sin bin.

While they had a final chance to hit back in the dying seconds, the Aussies turned the ball over at the ruck after a 65m drive down field, to end their Dubai campaign. 

DAY THREE, 7:20pm, QUARTER-FINAL, SAMOA 19 DEF AUSTRALIA 14

Samoa scored first after Henry Hutchison shot out of the line and missed a one-on-one tackle against Belgium Tuatagaloa, who raced to the line to open his country's account.

Australia was starved of possession for the opening three minutes but once they gained the ball, they hit back, scoring a penalty try after Samoa's Joe Perez batted down a pass close to his own line.

Perez also earnt a stint in the sin bin for his efforts, although Samoa managed to avoid being scored against while down a man.

In a tight game, the Aussies earnt the upper hand before the break though, earning a turnover and working the left side to open Maurice Longbottom for a run to the line.

Australia led 14-7 at the break but Samoa soon equalised, with Joe Perez breaking a weak tackle attempt and racing away from a set scrum move.

The bad news continued for Australia at the restart, with Joe Pincus sent to the sin bin after a challenge on a player in the air.

Despite some desperate defence - including holding a player up over the line - the Aussies were unable to hold the Samoans out for the entire period Pincus was in the bin, with Perez scoring his second try of the match in the corner to give his team a lead with less than two minutes on the clock.

Back on level terms, the Aussies needed to travel the length of the field in the dying seconds in a bid to save the game. A 65m drive ended in despair though when Samoa earnt a turnover at the ruck to advance to the semi-final against South Africa.

DAY TWO, 1.10am AUSTRALIA 24 DEF USA 12

Australia will head into the quarter-finals with a shot of confidence after beating the most consistent side in the world last year to remain unbeaten in Dubai and top their pool.

With little seemingly on offer, a burst of acceleration allowed Lachie Anderson to squeeze between two defenders and get to the line for the opening try.

Australia was happy to control the ball after that, winding down the clock while in possession and controlling field position as the US continued to concede penalties.

Their patience was rewarded seconds before the break when Joe Pincus crossed, handing Australia a 12-0 lead at the break.

US strike forward Danny Barrett was sin binned for a late hit in the movement that led to the Pincus try and the Aussies made the most of their advantage early in the second term, pouncing on a mistake from their rivals with Henry Hutchison racing away to score and give his team a 19-0 lead.

The US broke through two minutes from time after Maka Unufe capitalised on the Australian defence shooting out of the line but when Hutchison scored his second try with just seconds remaining, the result was beyond doubt.

 

Carlin Isles scored a consolation try in the dying seconds finishing a move with a short dash to the line. There was to be no long-range square-off between the two fastest men in the sport though, with Aussie debutant Trae Williams only coming on in the final minute and Isles also starting on the bench before being injected into the game in the second half.

DAY TWO 7.25pm AUSTRALIA 45 IRELAND 21

Ireland showed their credentials on day one by only just losing to a strong USA team, but Australia flexed their muscle by downing the Irish in a one-sided game.

Continuing their excellent form in Dubai, the Aussies opened the scoring through a powerful run from Nick Malouf and then followed up quickly with a try to Henry Hutchison that came from some Maurice Longbottom magic.

When Josh Turner scored soon after, the Aussies were out to a commanding lead and a Jeral Skelton try could have had them in the sheds at 28-7.

 

A long post-siren stretch of play saw Ireland score their second, however, and at 28-14, it was game back on.

But Australia found several more gears in the second half, with strong defence leading to a long Joe Pincus runaway try, and another from Turner soon after kicked them clear.

Ireland clawed one try black but Lachie Anderson sealed the win with a try on the siren to ensure the Aussies stayed unbeaten after two games.

DAY ONE: AUSTRALIA 43 DEF SCOTLAND 14

The expectation may have been for a runaway try but it was a defensive effort that marked Trae Williams' entry to the Sevens World Series, with his try-saving tackle helping Australia to an opening win at the Dubai Sevens.

 

Williams entered the match midway through the second half with Australia dominating Scotland in their Pool B clash.

Already, he had plenty to live up to. Earlier in the day, teen tyros Georgia Hannaway and Faith Nathan had scored on debut in the Aussie women's 38-0 win over Fiji, while teammate Josh Turner - another debutant - crossed seconds after halftime to leave Williams the only member of the quartet without a big play.

 

With his noted speed, all eyes were on the former track sprinter and his scrambling effort prevented a Scotland try.

The man known as "Quadzilla" officially became the fastest man in sevens rugby given his personal best of 10.10sec over the 100m and plenty are keenly anticipating his showdown with US speedster Carlin Isles on Saturday morning (AEDT) in a clash of the flyers.

The Aussies qualified for the 2020 Games after winning the Oceania sevens last month and Williams will now make his bid for a place in the team, beginning against Scotland in Dubai.

Nick Malouf takes over the captaincy role from the injured Lewis Holland with Jesse Parahi also returning to the main squad. 

Joe Pincus opened the scoring, racing down the short side from the back of a ruck to catch the Scotland defenders napping.

But the Scots quickly hit back, with Kyle Rowe making a break down the flank and several missed tackles allowing the movement to continue, with Robbie Ferguson eventually touching down and the successful conversion levelling the scores at 7-7.

The Aussies took a 19-7 lead to the break though after Pincus scored a second try before Josh Coward scored after the halftime hooter, scooting down the blind side in a carbon copy of the opening try.

The buzz may have been around Williams but it was another debutant that scored first, Josh Turner flying on to a bouncing ball to cross just seconds after the break.

Jeral Skelton increased the buffer with an outstanding stepping effort; Coward's chip and chase found Nick Malouf and with the score at 38-7, it was time for Williams to be injected into the game.

The fastest man in world sevens was expected to make his mark in attack, instead, it was a try-saving tackle that would be Williams' opening contribution as he knocked the ball from the grasp of Alex Coombes as he attempted to ground the ball.

Scotland would score again though, through Max McFarland, before Henry Hutchison raced away after the restart to score after the hooter to increase the Aussies' winning margin to 43-14.

SCHEDULE

Friday

Australia v Ireland, 6.58pm AEDT 

Saturday 

Australia v USA, 1.12am AEDT 

AUSTRALAN TEAM

1. Nick Malouf (c), University of Queensland, 35 caps 

2. Joe Pincus, Easts (Sydney), 6 caps 

3. Lachlan Anderson, Eastwood, 22 caps, 

4. Simon Kennewell, Randwick, 19 caps  

5. Jeral Skelton, Brothers, 14 caps  

6. Jesse Parahi, 44 caps 

7. Maurice Longbottom, Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development Team, 15 caps  

8. Josh Turner*, Manly 

9. Josh Coward, Souths (Melbourne), 5 caps

10. Lachlan Miller, Randwick, 6 caps  

11. Trae Williams*

12. Henry Hutchison, Randwick, 26 caps

13th Matt Hood, Sydney University, 6 caps  

*Denotes uncapped on World Series