Aussies go down to NZ in Sydney 7's double
4 February 2019
RUGBY: Both the men's and women's Aussie 7's have been humbled by New Zealand at home, with the Kiwi men now having won two Sydney titles in four years, and the NZ women claiming their maiden title on Australian soil and their sixth straight World Series title.
The Aussie women finished in second place, after a dominant 34-10 finals performance from New Zealand, who continued their 48-game unbeaten streak.
The cool-headed absence of Charlotte Caslick, Emilee Cherry and Shannon Parry - and the physicality of departed Chloe Dalton - was missed in Sydney, but co-captain Sharni Williams said the team would benefit hugely from the experience, with it acting as a major learning curve for their emerging generation.
"We've got some young girls here and it's about teaching them about getting to a final and trying to be successful. I'm really proud of the efforts these girls put in this weekend," she said.
Williams rued her own finals yellow card post-match and said the Aussies simply couldn't combat the Kiwis' attack the way they had planned.
"For one, me getting sent off wasn't really good," she said.
"The guys having to defend with 6 they really put in there but we knew the Black Ferns were going to step back, step back so we wanted to shut that gate but we didn't really do that so that let us down a little bit."
Australia sits equal third on points after the Sydney tournament and Williams was staying positive overall.
"We'll take those points and the experience these young girls got out of it but also this old dog got a bit out of it too," she laughed.
The Aussie men finished sixth after a last-gasp South Africa try relegated them to a 12-10 defeat.
In an absolutely brutal game of Sevens, neither side was willing to cede even a millimeter but both were perfectly happy to throw their weight around.
Missing Lewis Holland, Maurice Longbottom, Josh Coward and Ben O'Donnell, Australia couldn’t have battled any harder in their last game and they played themselves to a standstill in a brutal encounter
The Aussies came out with clear determination and when Henry Hutchison won a penalty, they took little time making metres.
Unfortunately for the Aussies, the South Africans returned the favour when John Porch came off his feet in a ruck with the only difference being that they finished the score.
A Nick Malouf hit stopped a South African attacking charge in its tracks and though it took time, the Aussies eventually notched one back through John Porch.
It was a slow start to the second half for both teams but a Jesse Parahi turnover put the Aussies on the attack.
Michael Wells made his impact felt in the breakdown and his physicality set up another chance for the Aussies, with Nick Malouf powering over with just four minutes to go give the Aussies the lead for the first time.
South Africa won possession and had the last say in attack, testing the Aussie defence and Johannes Pretorius found the space on the left edge to score the match winner.
The Australian men have now finished sixth in three consecutive tournaments and are sixth on the Olympic qualification ladder, nine points behind South Africa in fourth place. If they miss automatic qualification, Australia would have to go through an Oceania playoff in December.
But Parahi is confident the Australian team can click.
“We have the players, we have the plays but we are going up and down, and we need to be more consistent,” he said.
“The mental side of rugby is under-rated. The teams that do that do it well, they’re right on top of that stuff and we definitely are getting there. We are putting a lot of work into it. We will get there but we just need to do it a lot quicker.”