Australia belted three kick-offs out on the full in two days of Olympic sevens which says it all about the flawed basics which brought them unstuck.
Tuesday night’s 19-0 loss to favourites Fiji in the quarter-finals at the Tokyo Olympics ended Australia’s medal hopes at the same stage as Rio in 2016.
The Aussies will feel empty and curse the “what ifs” of their error-prone campaign but they were architects of their own demise.
They were closer to the Fijians than the score indicated and might have gone into half-time at 7-all if a fine Maurice Longbottom run had earned the try it deserved.
He might almost have torpedoed low and scored himself. He passed to the accomplished Lachie Anderson, who had the ball jolted from his grasp as he attempted to score in the corner.
When the kick-off to the second half flew out on the full, the Aussies still got the ball back. This time, it was Lachie Miller who lost the handle on the ball as Lewis Holland had done in the first half.
You just can’t keep giving the ball back to the opposition in elite sevens.
Still, the Aussies threw everything into it with great Josh Turner and Dietrich Roache tackles on far bigger opponents and a superb tandem tackle elsewhere to save a try.
Another turnover and this time the Fijians could not be contained. Bang. Bang. Two more tries and 19-0.
Longbottom was ever-dangerous and Henry Hutchison was busy but play didn’t run Samu Kerevi’s way in the final for him to have an impact in his short stint.
“They’re absolutely shattered as am I. You can’t deny them of the hurt. They put their blood and sweat and tears into it over a long period of time,” Australian coach Tim Walsh said of his players in the mixed zone.
“We had to be at our absolutely best to win that one and we weren’t. Of course, they are disappointed but I guarantee they delivered every bit of effort they possibly could to do their best.”
The Aussies should curse the split personality and wobbles in composure from their morning pool clash against New Zealand most of all.
It was the best of Australian Sevens. And the worst.
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The 14-0 first half was superb. Kerevi made a big impact from his opening cut through the Kiwi line for 7-0.
Anderson scored after a dive onto a loose ball by skipper Nick Malouf was just the desperation it takes to win big matches.
At 12-0, the Aussies should have won it. With 90 seconds to go, they could have won it. They had two chances with the ball in that period and nothing at all came from either. If that 14-12 loss had been a win, they would not have met Fiji in the quarters but a softer rival.
“Ifs” again. There were too many for Australia to go any further in Tokyo.