Canada Sevens: Walsh pleased with progress after silver in Canada

Mens - Vancouver
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australian men's Sevens coach Tim Walsh says he is starting to see the consistency he wants from his team after back-to-back semi-final appearances.

The Aussies finished fourth in last week's LA tournament and took silver in Vancouver after a 17-14 defeat to New Zealand.

Looking for their first Cup title since 2018, the Aussies held the lead for much of the game but were run down late in the game.

The Aussies led New Zealand 14-5 at the break but surrendered that lead after consecutive yellow cards and were unable to add to their first-half score.

Australia's silver medal means they move to fourth in the overall World Series standings, after spending much of the season in seventh.

While they missed out on a cup, this was their first back-to-back top four results since Sydney and Hamilton in 2018.

Walsh has been frustrated in the past about his team's struggle to back up strong results and said on Monday it was pleasing to see a change despite the disappointment of a narrow final loss.

"I think you can be a flash in the pan and have your day but to do it consistently is the key and it sort of gives you the confidence and build momentum and all that kind of stuff," he said.

🔥 Straight from the restart! #Canada7s

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"So, it was pleasing to be out there on the podium again but disappointing we didn't finish first.

"Still got some stuff to do but it was a really good tour both for certain individuals but also as a team. very positive and real shame that Hong Kong and Singapore's been postponed because it would've been nice to get back up the field sooner rather than later."

Two yellow cards in the final unravelled Australia and they were unable to capitalise when the Kiwis had their own sin binning.

Walsh admitted that was something they would lament looking back.

"It's a bit disappointing, the discipline," he said.

"Every time a team gets a yellow card you want to be trying to score two tries on them and that's what New Zealand did.

"We had five players on the field for the first one and then six on the second. It makes it very hard to win a game when you put yourself in that situation but the positive was that we actually got ourselves back in it and we had every chance to win it, every chance."

"It would have one of the great victories but we'll be rueing that one but it's gone and we'll look at the positives from individuals and as a team and move forward."

Walsh praised Lachie Miller, who had breakout performances across the North American legs after developing in the squad in recent years.

"The first few tournaments he had some holes in his game, around the attacking shield and a bit of a ball carrying and some decision making but like all players you give them a bit of confidence, a bit of time in the saddle and then put a bit of faith in them, they start to play without fear,' he said.

"They're not playing for their position , they're playing to perform and then ultimately win and Lachie played like that and he was able to show his full array of skills, whether it be linebreaking, tackling, turning over and his speed.

"Certainly a breakout leg of the world series for Lachie and it's really very positive for a coach."

Australia suffered one injury in the tournament - Joe Pincus hurt his shoulder - but Walsh was optimistic about his prognosis.

"We'll have to see when we get back whether we need to get it scanned," he said.

"Not expecting the worst, hope it's just a minor ligament sublux, shoulder's in place and quite strong so have to see how much damage is done."

With Hong Kong and Singapore postponed, Australia don't play again until the London Sevens on the weekend of May 23 and 24.

RESULTS

Bronze final

South Africa 19 - Canada 26

Fifth place playoff

USA 24 - England 26

Ninth place playoff

France 7- Scotland 12

13th place playoff

Ireland 31- Argentina 26

STANDINGS

1. New Zealand - 115

2. South Africa- 104

3. Fiji - 83

4. Australia - 81

5. England - 77

6. France - 74

7. USA - 72

8. Canada - 57

9. Argentina - 56

10. Ireland - 49

12:51pm - Cup final - Australia vs New Zealand

Australia has finished second to New Zealand in Canada after a 17-14 Cup final defeat.

Australia held the early advantage and had a nine-point half-time lead but two consecutive yellow cards in the second half opened up the opportunity for the Kiwis to hit back and hold the lead late in the second term.

The Aussies fought their way back into an attacking position but a forward pass on the way to a try and a last-gasp penalty meant New Zealand held on.

A Tim Mikkelson knock-on gave Australia the first chance to build an attack and they made the most of it.

After some patient recycles, Nick Malouf ran a strong line and offloaded just in time to put Lachie Anderson through for the opening try of the match.

Australia dominated possession in the first half but a creping New Zealand defence meant they were unable to make much ground.

A long-range Lewis Holland pass hit Josh Turner and the winger looked like he had broken away down the sideline but his right foot scraped touch and they were brought back.

New Zealand had their own opportunity to attack as the half went on and after being denied by the Aussies at one edge, they worked their way to the other for Ravouvou to score.

The Aussies weren't done, though, and with the last play of the opening seven minutes, Lewis Holland put Maurice Longbottom through a gap and the speedster managed to stay out of the Kiwis' grasp.

New Zealand immediately piled on the pressure in the second half as Andrew Knewstubb tried to power his way to the line.

While Knewstubb didn't make it over the first time, a high tackle from Longbottom saw the Aussie speedster sent to the bin and the Kiwi star only needed one other chance to score and narrow the gap to just two points.

Ill-discipline began to unravel the Aussies - Miller joined Longbottom in the bin after being carded for slowing the ball down after a try was scored.

Ravouvou took just seconds to dot down with Miller and Longbottom off the field and snatch the lead for New Zealand for the first time.

Australia looked to the boot with under two minutes to go and Miller won the foot race, collecting the ball deep in the Aussies attack.

Fortune looked to be turning the Australians' way when Sam Dickson was binned for slowing the play down as they built their attack.

With a two-man overlap on the left edge, veteran Lewis Holland threw a forward pass, denying Australia what appeared a straightforward try opportunity.

New Zealand held the ball in the dying seconds after that and a penalty just before the whistle meant that the Aussies never had a chance to win it back.

RESULT

Australia 14

Tries: Anderson, Longbottom

Cons: Holland 2

Yellow card: Longbottom (9'), Miller (11'

New Zealand 17

Tries: Ravouvou 2, Knewstubb

Cons: Koroi

Yellow cards: Dickson  (13')

9:59am - Cup  Semi-final - Australia vs Canada

Australia has hung on to win a dramatic Cup semi-final over Canada, 19-14.

The Aussies will face New Zealand in the tournament decider in Vancouver after a heartstopping final four clash with the hosts.

After going toe-to-toe all match, Australia held a five-point lead going into the final seconds of the game.

With the ball deep in their own territory, Australia spread wide and Canada won a turnover and a chance to steal the game.

It looked like they had done it when Theo Sauder burst through the defensive line before a pack of Australian defenders threw themselves over to stop him.

A video review deemed the Canadian had lost the ball over the line, confirming an Aussie victory almost two minutes after the 14 minutes was up.

An early penalty put Australia on the back foot but they were able to win the ball back without conceding a score.

It was Canada who nabbed the opening try in the fourth minute, when they popped up an offload in the slimmest of windows and Nathan Hirayama sprinted into space.

Hirayama through a loopy pass into the hands of Harry Jones for his teammate to score under the post.

The Aussies peppered the Canadian defence as the half ticked on but some poor passes looked like snuffing out their chance.

Enter Lachie Miller - the in-form Aussie danced around some Canadian defenders before offloading to Nick Malouf who found Lachie Anderson on the wing to level things up.

Where the first half was a grind, Australia burst out of the blocks in the second with a Henry Hutchison try giving them the lead for the first time in the match.

Miller scored directly off the restart, gobbling up a Nick Malouf tap down to score and stretch Australia's lead to two scores.

A lineout fumble from Australia gave Hirayama the chance to spark Canada's major attacking chance of the second term.

Mike Fuailefau powered over the line for Canada making the margin just five points with 75 seconds to go and then the final minute of drama unfolded.

Australia will take on New Zealand for the title at 11:58am AEDT.

RESULT

Australia 19

Tries: Anderson, Hutchison

Cons: Holland 2

Canada 14

Tries: Jones, Fuailefau

Cons: Hirayama

6:25am - Cup QF - Australia vs England

Australia's men have made consecutive cup semi-finals for the first time in more than two seasons after a 31-12 win over England in the Vancouver quarters.

The Aussies haven't finished in the top four in back-to-back tournaments since 2018 when they won in Sydney and backed that up with third in Hamilton.

Monday morning's result was reflection of what seems to be growing consistency in a comfortable victory for Australia.

Lachie Anderson had a try for the Aussies in the first 30 seconds after a slick cross-field chain reaped rewards.

Australia had to work edge to edge for their second but it was Anderson again who came up with the goods, burning the English defence for his double.

England hit back with a score to Ben Harris but it was Australia who held much of the momentum.

Anderson streaked away to put the Aussies in a strong attacking position again and though he was dragged down short of the line,  Lewis Holland scored off the next phase to keep the tally ticking over.

England kept the ball alive late and Harris made it two first-half tries with the last play of the opening stanza.

Maurice Longbottom wasted little time in turning on the jets in the second half, speeding away down the centre of the field to score.

Australia will play the winner of the Canada-Spain quarter-final in their semi at 9:36am AEDT.

RESULT

Australia 31

Tries: Anderson 2, Holland, Longbottom, Turner

Cons: Holland 3

England 12

Tries: Harris 2

Cons: Mitchell