Gutsy Aussies hold on for Great Britain victory

Fri, Jan 27, 2023, 6:06 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Aussies have started their Sydney campaign on a strong note. Photo: Getty Images
The Aussies have started their Sydney campaign on a strong note. Photo: Getty Images

An inspired defensive performance has secured a crucial 12-7 win for Australia over Great Britain.

Like their female counterparts, the defending World Series champions looked disjointed to start as GB took a 7-5 lead into the break.

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With the knockout stage dreams on the line, Maurice Longbottom and Henry Paterson stepped up, combining to re-take the lead before producing a number of strong defensive plays to close it out.

Coach John Manenti was left frustrated after the Australians struggled to convert their scoring opportunities.

James Turner went close in the opening minute before a certain try to Nathan Lawson was brought back after a forward pass from Henry Hutchison

On several occasions, they failed to connect with the final pass, allowing Great Britain back into the contest after an early try to Dietrich Roache.

“I’m not (happy). I think we turned over (the ball) four times in possession, three of which should’ve been tries. I’ll put that down to a bit of anxiousness and the boys looking to play well," Manenti said, who admitted he's no longer pleased with just competing.

“I’ll give them this grace and try and stay calm because that performance won’t win us many games of football. We defended really well but we need to stop turning the ball over and giving them opportunities.

“We had three clear scoring opportunities and should’ve iced the game at half-time. They know that and I know they’ll be feeling emotional about playing here and looking to do well so that’ll be good to get out of the system.”

Senior players Paterson and Longbottom changed the game, with Paterson put through the hole by his vice-captain to restore the lead after the break.

The Easts product then produced a massive hit to halt a GB attack before coming up with the game-sealing turnover at the end of the game.

Longbottom was likewise heroic in defence, making multiple hits on bigger men to ensure Australia end day one on a high.

"It was a nervy start but it showed how much we really care," Paterson believes.

"With the nature of Sevens, you're trying to not get too concerned with the score. We knew we had to start the second half strong and when 'Moz' got the ball, I tried to play off him and good stuff happened.

"We're happy with the start but we have five more games to be better."

"We want to be a great team and to do so, you have to perform consistently every time," Manenti added.

"If we can defend with that attitude and mentality all tournament, that'll define where we go."

Australia 12 (TRIES: Paterson, Roache; CONS: Roache) def Great Britain 7 (TRIES Fergusson; CONS: Emery)

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