Day 2 of the Oceania 7s has wrapped up with six teams still in the fight for two Olympic tickets up for grabs and the Aussies chasing a fast finish to their three-day campaign at Ballymore.
The Aussie women wrapped up their five-game series against NZ Development with a match to spare while the Aussie men are out of title contention after two wins (Oceania Barbarians and Niue) and two losses (Fiji and New Zealand) across Days 1 and 2.
The men will tackle Solomon Islands tomorrow at 14:34pm (all times AEST) for the Oceania 7th place final while the women play their final NZ Development clash at 16:02pm for a place at the Oceania women's championship decider.
Meanwhile Samoa and Papua New Guinea are set to duke it out for men's Olympic qualification at 15:40pm tomorrow. The winner will take on the victor of New Zealand-Fiji for a shot at the overall men's Oceania title.
In the women's Olympic qualifiers, Papua New Guinea and Fiji loom the favourites after topping their pools. They'll face Tonga and Samoa respectively in Sunday's semi finals.
Oceania 7s - Rolling Day 3 Results
- Game 47 (12:00pm) - American Samoa v Nauru
Australian Men's Results - Day 2 (one win, two losses)
Australia looked comfortable in a 47-5 win over Niue, running in seven tries to kickstart their day.
Ben Dowling opened their account with an early double before Henry Palmer showed a clear pair of heel to set up a 19-0 halftime lead.
Dally Bird crossed shortly after oranges to stretch the margin to 26-0 and it was effectively game over when Niue saw yellow on the ten-minute mark.
Aden Ekanayake and Dietrich Roache scored in quick succession to ice the win, though Niue enjoyed the final word with a consolation try on full time.
However, the Australian men didn't fare as well against Fiji, letting a 10-0 lead slip to eventually fall 28-22 at Ballymore.
Early tries to Nathan Lawson and Hayden Sargeant and a Fiji yellow card handed John Manenti's side the perfect start but the reigning Olympic and World Cup champions were too strong, scoring three rapid tries to surge ahead 21-10.
A barnstorming Tim Clements set up James Turner for Australia's third try, closing the margin to six with two minutes remaining before Iowane Teba put the result beyond doubt for Fiji, Ben Dowling's late consolation padding Australia's final score.
Australia needed to beat New Zealand to keep their Oceania title hopes alive but fell agonisingly short in a 14-10 slog.
Conversions proved the difference as a six-man New Zealand hung on after posting first half tries to Akuila Rokolisoa and Regan Ware.
Dietrich Roache was Australia's best, scoring their first try and setting up Nathan Lawson's second half score with a stunning offload, but it wasn't enough as the Kiwis overcame the loss of Moses Leo to hold out four-point victors and book their grand final berth against Fiji on Sunday.
Australian Women's Results - Day 2 (two wins)
The Aussie women flipped the script on an evenly matched Day 1 against NZ Development, running out comfortable winners 26-12 (Game 3) and 40-12 (Game 4) on Day 2.
Game 3 saw Shiray Kaka pick up where she left off yesterday, turning Demi Hayes inside out to post NZ's first score, though the lead was short-lived with Maddi Levi responding with a lovely set-move from a penalty shortly after the restart.
A patient build-up towards the half-time hooter saw Kelsey Teneti put NZ back head 12-7 at oranges before a different Australia emerged, striking first in the second term through Faith Nathan.
The Levi sisters then combined to set up Bienne Terita out wide, stealing a New Zealand lineout and unleashing the flying winger for Australia's third score before Terita iced the result with another long-range effort after full-time.
Game 4 saw the Aussies channel their earlier second-half showing to rocket out of the blocks, scoring through Alysia Leafau-Fakaosilea, Dom du Toit and Sharni Smale for a 19-0 half time advantage.
There was little relief for NZ Development after the break with Maddi Ashby setting up Sariah Paki under the sticks before du Toit put Bienne Terita away to stretch their lead to 33-0.
Two late NZ tries either side of a finale long-range Maddi Levi effort gave Kiwi fans something to cheer about but it was Australia's day, running out 40-7 victors.
Oceania 7s - Rolling Day 2 Results
- Game 46 (19:26pm) - New Zealand 14 def Australia 10 (Men's International)
- Game 45 (19:04pm) - Australia 40 def NZ Development 12 (Women's International)
- Game 44 (18:42pm) - Niue 12 v Oceania 47 (Men's International)
- Game 43 (18:20pm) - Samoa 46 def Cook Islands 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 42 (17:58pm) - Tuvalu 33 def American Samoa 7 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 41 (17:36pm) - Tonga 61 v Vanuatu 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 40 (17:14pm) - Nauru 26 def Kiribati 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 39 (16:52pm) - Fiji 28 def Australia 22 (Men's International)
- Game 38 (16:30pm) - New Zealand 56 def Niue 0 (Men's International)
- Game 37 (16:08pm) - Australia 26 def NZ Development 12 (Women's International)
- Game 36 (15:46pm) - Samoa 52 def American Samoa 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 35 (15:24pm) - Solomon Islands 19 def Cook Islands 14 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 34 (15:02pm) - Tonga 73 def Kiribati 5 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 33 (14:40pm) - Papua New Guinea 55 def Vanuatu 7 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 32 (14:18pm) - Fiji 68 def American Samoa 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 31 (13:56pm) - Tonga 10 def Cook Islands 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 30 (13:34pm) - Australia 47 def Niue 5 (Men's International)
- Game 29 (13:12pm) - Fiji 31 def v Oceania Barbarians 12 (Men's International)
- Game 28 (12:50pm) - Cook Islands 31 def American Samoa 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 27 (12:28pm) - Solomon Islands 36 def Tuvalu 5 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 26 (12:06pm) - Vanuatu 17 def Kiribati 15 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 25 (11:44am) - Papua New Guinea 31 def Nauru 5 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 24 (11:22am) - Papua New Guinea 50 def Nauru 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 23 (11:00am) - Samoa 34 v Solomon Islands 0 (Women's Olympic)
Day 1 Recap
Weather delays, sensational tries, and Australia drawing first blood against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand dominated Day 1 headlines
Play during the men's Olympic qualifier between Tonga and Papua New Guinea (Game 17, 17:52pm kickoff) halted at 21-19 with just two minutes remaining due to nearby lightning strikes.
However the delay worked wonders for PNG with the Pukpuks scoring within ten seconds of play resuming to set up a 24-21 boilover.
Meanwhile the Australian men opened their account with a 24-0 win over Oceania Barbarian with Hayden Sargeant, James Turner, Dietrich Roache and Nathan Lawson crossing on a wet Ballymore track.
Earlier, the Aussie women won their first match of a five-game series against a New Zealand Development side 21-19 before playing out a 21-all draw at in their second clash
Sister act Teagan and Maddi Levi were at the heart of the first-up win with Teagan kicking all three conversions and laying on two try assists for Maddi.
But the star-studded Aussies rarely looked comfortable against NZ, who scored first through Jorja Miller and pressured their hosts through impressive rush defence before Maddi Levi's first long-range effort.
Tyesha Ikenasio then made the most of a Bienne Terita yellow card to score NZ's second midway through the first half, opening up a 12-7 lead at oranges.
It took a tackle-shedding run from T Levi deep in her own 22 to get the Aussies out of trouble early in the second term, her offload freeing up M Levi for another long-range try before Charlotte Caslick put the margin beyond two scores with a typical scything run. Black Ferns star Shiray Kaka scored for NZ after full-time to bring the margin back to two.
Their second outing saw another six-try affair with Caslick, Dom du Toit and Kaitlin Shave crossing in the 21-all draw.
Australia trailed 14-0 after early tries to Ikenasio and Tenika Willison but fought back and could've won at the death through Faith Nathan if not for a desperate tryline tackle by the covering NZ defence.
Reigning Olympic men's champions Fiji also flexed their muscles with a 47-5 win over Niue and a 12-5 win over New Zealand (who earlier smashed Oceania 56-0) while Paris 2024 hopefuls Papua New Guinea and Tonga also posted early victories in both the men's and women's qualifiers.
Oceania 7s - Day 1 Results
- Game 22 (19:42pm*) - Fiji 12 def New Zealand 5 (Men's International)
- Game 21 (19:20pm*) - Australia 21 drew NZ Development 21 (Women's International)
- Game 20 (18:58pm*) - Australia 24 def Oceania Barbarians 0 (Men's International)
- Game 19 (18:36pm*) - Samoa 50 def Solomon Islands 0 (Men's Olympics)
- Game 18 (18:12pm*) - Cook Islands 17 def Tuvalu 10 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 17 (17:52pm*) - Papua New Guinea 24 def Tonga 21 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 16 (17:30pm) - Vanuatu 19 def Nauru 5 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 15 (17:08pm) - Fiji 38 def Tonga 5 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 14 (16:46pm) - American Samoan 28 def Cook Islands 21 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 13 (16:24pm) - Papua New Guinea 36 def Samoa 7 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 12 (16:02pm) - Solomon Islands 41 def Nauru 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 11 (15:40pm) - Australia 21 def NZ Development 19 (Women's International)
- Game 10 (15:18pm) - New Zealand 56 def Oceania Barbarians 0 (Men's International)
- Game 9 (14:46pm) - Fiji Men 47 def Niue Men 5 (Men's International)
- Game 8 (14:34pm) - Samoa 36 def Tuvalu 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 7 (14:12pm) - Solomon Islands 50 def American Samoa 5 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 6 (13:50pm) - Tonga 59 def Nauru 7 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 5 (13:28pm) - Papua New Guinea 46 def Kiribati 0 (Men's Olympic)
- Game 4 (13:06pm) - Fiji 50 def Cook Islands 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 3 (12:44pm) - Tonga 32 def American Samoa 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 2 (12:22pm) - Papua New Guinea 45 def Solomon Islands 0 (Women's Olympic)
- Game 1 (12:00pm) - Samoa 50 def Nauru 0 (Women's Olympic)
PREVIEW: Veteran Nick Malouf headlines an experienced men's squad and the Aussie women aren't pulling punches either, naming 11 players who won a World Cup and Commonwealth Games double in 2022.
“The Oceania region is always a strong rugby region and it’s going to be a great weekend of rugby; we are lucky to play some of the best teams of the Pacific," Malouf said.
"With the HSBC SVNS Series starting in a couple of weeks and this will be a final head out for us, we are looking forward to finding out the final side of the draw as well.”
While Australia are playing outside Olympic qualification, Malouf has tipped a thrilling men's battle for tickets to Paris 2024.
“Samoa would have to be the favourites because they narrowly miss the qualification, we went down to the wire with them, Tonga and PNG are dangerous as well," he said.
Meanwhile Fijiana remain hot favourites to take out the women's Olympic qualifiers but face stiff opposition from Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and others.
View Full Tournament Fixture here.
Australian Men's Squad & Fixtures/Results - Oceania 7s
Nick Malouf, Dally Bird, Aden Ekanayake, Ben Dalton, Tim Clements, James McGregor, Hayden Sargeant, Ben Dowling, Dietrich Roache, James Turner, Henry Palmer, Nathan Lawson
Day 1 (Friday 10 November) - Australia 24 def Oceania Barbarians 0
Day 2 (Saturday 11 November) - Australia 47 def Niue 5 (01:34pm AEST), Australia 22 def by Fiji 28 (04:52pm AEST), Australia v New Zealand (7:26pm AEST)
Day 3 (Sunday 12 November) - TBC
Australian Women's Squad - Oceania 7s
Sariah Paki, Bella Nasser, Kaitlin Shave, Madison Ashby, Maddison Levi, Teagan Levi, Faith Nathan, Demi Hayes, Bienne Terita, Sharni Smale, Charlotte Caslick, Dominique Du Toit, Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea
Day 1 (Friday 10 November) - Australia 21 def v NZ Development 19 (Game 1), Australia 21 draw NZ Development 19 (Game 2)
Day 2 (Saturday 11 November) - Australia 26 def NZ Development 12 (Game 3), Australia v NZ Development (Game 4)
Day 3 (Sunday 12 November) - Australia v NZ Development (Game 5)