Australia lose Sevens final to New Zealand

Australia have fallen 17-14 to New Zealand in the final of the Vancouver men's sevens after dominating early play.

TIM WALSH at the Rugby Australia building in Sydney, Australia.
 TIM WALSH at the Rugby Australia building in Sydney, Australia. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Ill-discipline proved Australia's downfall in the final of the Vancouver men's sevens tournament, losing in a 17-14 thriller to world series leaders New Zealand.

The Australians led 14-5 at half-time but had two players yellow-carded in the second half with New Zealand pouncing to secure their 10th successive win over their trans-Tasman rivals.

Coach Tim Walsh rued the lack of discipline and said it was a missed opportunity to secure their first title since 2018.

"It's disappointing ... it makes it very hard to win a game when you put yourself in that sort of situation," Walsh said.

"The positive was that we got ourselves back in it and had every chance to win it, every chance, and it would have been one of the great victories.

"We'll be ruing that one, but it's gone so we will look at the positives from individuals and the team."

Australia got off to a sterling start and raced to an early lead when Nick Malouf put leading tryscorer Lachie Anderson through a gap.

Flyer Joe Ravouvou then got his team on the scoreboard when he started and finished the attack as the Kiwis worked the ball across the field to trail 7-5.

Maurice Longbottom however extended that lead with the last play of the first half, when he outpaced the New Zealand chasers in a 50m dash to the line.

Less than a minute into the second stanza the Aussies were down a man when Longbottom was yellow-carded for a high tackle and their opponents used the overlap for Andrew Newstubb to stroll across the line.

Longbottom was joined soon after by Lachie Miller for deliberately slowing down the ball and with five men against seven New Zealand hit the lead with Ravouvou grabbing his second.

As the clock wound down New Zealand also lost a man with Sam Dickson binned, but Australia blew a golden chance to score with a two-man overlap with veteran Lewis Holland throwing a forward pass.

The silver medal, after last round's fourth place in LA, means Australia move to fourth in the overall world series standings.

Walsh said he was happy with their growing consistency through the north-American legs.

"It's been a real top effort the last couple of weeks," the Olympic coach said.

"I take a lot out of the last couple of weeks because of that consistency - that's what we're after.

"It was pleasing to be up on the podium again, but disappointing we didn't finish first.

"We've still got some stuff to do but it was a really good tour for certain individuals but also as a team."

With the Hong Kong and Singapore legs postponed due to the coronavirus, Australia don't play again until the London Sevens on the weekend of May 23 and 24.


AAP