The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team have finished fourth at the Los Angeles Sevens following a narrow 21-19 defeat to New Zealand in the Bronze Final.
Australia qualified for the third-place playoff following an unbeaten run on day one defeating Scotland, Samoa and host USA to top Pool C, and then clobbered Ireland 36-0 in their quarter-final matchup before running into a red-hot Fiji in today’s semi-final.
New Zealand drew first blood in the playoff for Bronze, crossing the line in quick succession during the opening exchanges to create an early buffer.
The Aussies responded with Maurice Longbottom and Lewis Holland dotting down to break the New Zealand momentum and leave the sides deadlocked at the break. As both sides tussled for possession in the second half, the tiebreaker came late with a yellow card to Lachie Miller seeing New Zealand break free with a try to co-Captain Tim Mikkelson. Captain Nick Malouf quickly struck back after some slick hands from Longbottom which created an overlap on the right side, however a missed conversion saw the Aussies fall agonisingly short.
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Tim Walsh said: “This tournament has highlighted that the team has the ability to perform at the top level and under pressure.
“We had a great performance on day one and carried that momentum into day two against Ireland, however, were unable to break through a strong Fijian defence and found ourselves in a highly competitive match against New Zealand playing off for third.
“Lachlan Miller had an outstanding weekend in the gold jersey, the way he continued to find space and his support play was second to none while Nick Malouf continued to lead from the front, especially in that final game against New Zealand.
“There has been a lot of progress here, and we want to carry on our work into Vancouver.”
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens results, Los Angeles
Australia 31 defeated Scotland 7
Australia 31 defeated Samoa 5
Australia 17 defeated USA 7
Australia 36 defeated Ireland 0
Australia 7 defeated by Fiji 43
Australia 19 defeated by New Zealand 21