All that Glitters is Aussie GOLD – Day Three HSBC Sydney 7s

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All that Glitters is Aussie GOLD – Day Three HSBC Sydney 7s
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 28: Australia celebrate victory after defeating South Africa in the MenÕs final match during day three of the 2018 Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

It was a more than fitting finale for the host nation, to win both the men’s and women’s competitions at the HSBC Sydney 7s tournaments. A fantastic result in fact for Australia, and one that had the fans in jubilation after a terrific Day Three outcome for the ‘green and gold’ national sides.

Dual success for each of the national sides, it is a first in the Australian leg history. One that is a huge confidence building-step for both teams, that right now illustrates how the Australian Sevens Rugby program is achieving high results on the world stage.

This weekend both the women, but especially the men’s side, reached goals that fans could have only ever dreamed of achieving. The results speak for themselves, even though the New Zealand women and South African men will have been confident of winning themselves.

All that Glitters is GOLD – Day Three; HSBC Sydney 7s

If this report were only highlights, they might show how the final results went against common expectation. Although the women’s team are former World Series title holders, few will have seen the men’s team as competing in the Cup final – let alone winning it so comprehensively.

Results go against common expectation for Aussie 7s

Not many will have picked that the men’s teams will have achieved so much. This is as much due to prior results, but as the men had not reached higher than a semifinal for a number of years. So those expectations were based on what many had predicted…….who knew that over the next three days, the Aussie men would over achieve to this level.

Head coach Andy Friend told Rugby.com.au “I just thought those boys were fantastic. They worked so hard and that’s the thing (people) I don’t see – a lot of people don’t necessarily give the Sevens the respect it deserves and I’ve been coaching now for 23 years.

“I’ve never seen a group of people work harder than these blokes.”

“To see them day in and day out do that but not get the recognition, it’s been tough, but now they get the recognition and I’m very pleased and very proud of them”. It has been a drought between Cup victories (six years in fact) so for some, the ‘monkey is now off their back’.

Several players lead from the front for the hosts. Lachie Anderson; Player of the Final, and James Stannard, the senior leader (in the absence of Ed Jenkins). Jesse Parahi and John Porch all deserve credit. When asked, Tim Anstee, who impressed after his breakthrough season in 2016/17, felt this was beneficial to the sides future. He said “Great sides win but, championship sides keep winning.

“We’ve got a job to do next week, we’re going to soak this one up, I promise you because it’s been a while, but we’ll make sure to turn up next weekend and back it up.”

And in the desire for Rugby Australia, is that the success seen in Sydney, can carry on to the Hamilton leg of the HSBC Sevens Series.

 Women Continue to reach Cup Finals

The Australian women are a different proposition [to the men]. The women’s team are high performers. Past series champions and, current holders of the Olympic title. That means before any tournament, that group have higher expectations. Yet, after defeating New Zealand 31-0 in the final, they exceeded their own expectations.

Ellia Green of Australia (C) celebrates victory with team mates at the end of final match against New Zealand during day three of the 2018 Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium on January 28, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images).

Emily Cherry respected that the results came through the groups confidence levels. “I think that’s honestly the key to our success this weekend is that everyone was relaxed, it was a totally different mojo, similar to that of Rio, where everyone was just relaxed, taking it as it comes,” she said.

“We definitely play those critical moments a lot better than what we did 12 months ago.”

The ‘golden glow’ from the side after the final hooter was clear to see. They had recovered from the disappointment of last year, to step-up and overturn the Black Ferns Sevens hopes. That will all lead to the next big tournament for the women – the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – with both men’s and women’s teams tasting success, all the other commonwealth teams [NZ, Canada, England, Wales, Kenya, Fiji and South Africa] should be concerned that the ‘golden country’ does not carry off all the medals; on home soil.

HSBC Sydney 7s Day Three results:

Women’s Cup Final: Australia 31 New Zealand 0

In a commanding performance, the women started with a ‘hiss and a roar’. A try within two minutes, and it only got better for them, as the match wore on. A yellow card to Tyla Nathan-Wong only made the task harder for New Zealand, and two quick tries rubbed salt into the wound.

The Kiwis were overwhelmed, the scrambling defence negated the speed of Portia Woodman – who captured 22 tries this weekend – so the Kiwis had to attempt high-risk passes. Dropped ball and turnovers rewarded the hosts, who scored three times to secure the 2018 HSBC Sydney 7s title (their second win of the series).

Men’s Cup Final: Australia 29 South Africa 0

The men; like the women, had an impenetrable defensive line. Offering little space, Rosko Specman appeared to have crossed the line, but a TMO call ruled him out of bounds. That motivated the hosts, who had a huge weight of possession. Lewis Holland benefitted, with the first of four tries for the Aussie men.

They were buoyed by the large crowd on Day Three, and when Ben O’Donnell out-paced Seabelo Senatla, the writing was on the wall. A huge, morale boosting win for the ‘golden boys’ and it sends them to Hamilton with renewed confidence.

Women’s semifinal: NZL 26 Canada 0 (*3) | Aus 31 Russia 0 (4)            *(final placing)

Men’s semifinal: USA 7 (4)  South Africa 35 | Aus 28 Argentina 0 (3)

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Next week, the Men’s Sevens Series heads to New Zealand. This is the fourth stop of the World Series, and the draw shows how tough it will be for any side to maintain a winning sequence. With three different winners of the men’s series, the pressure is on one of them to continue a winning sequence.

Look out for the next weeks action, in Hamilton, New Zealand. Last Word on Rugby will follow the results and the impact on the standings of the 2017/18 World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series.

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