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Aussie 7s miss Paris Quarter Finals after losses to Fiji and Samoa

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The Australian Men’s Sevens team have finished the first day in Paris with one win and two losses after they conquered Russia before narrowly falling to reigning Paris 7s champions, Samoa, and then Fiji.

Australia will now play Japan in the Challenge Quarter Final at 5.44pm AEST on Sunday May 14.

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Andy Friend said: “It was a day of frustration. We started slowly against Russia; we weren’t clinical in what we wanted to do. We worked hard against Samoa but again had opportunities and didn’t take them. We came into a do-or-die game against Fiji and some parts were really good, and in other parts we were inaccurate and we paid the penalty there."

“On the whole as a team we didn’t function well and that’s something we need to get right for tomorrow.

"We’re out of the Cup Quarter Finals which is disappointing so the focus and target now is to win three games tomorrow and get ourselves back into that top eight for London.”

Australia 19 defeated Russia 12

The youthful Australian team ran out under sunny skies, but after recent rain, the wet surface proved challenging as both sides found themselves slipping on the damp grass. A yellow card to Nick Malouf in the fourth minute left the Australians scrambling in defence, and Simon Kennewell proved his determination with a courageous tackle on the line that prevented an almost certain Russian try. However it wasn’t long before Russia found the tryline to put the first points on the board, and the conversion followed. With Malouf back on the field, Australia found momentum and Liam McNamara was able to dart through two defenders and register Australia’s first points, to level the scores 7-7 at half time.

Russia found the tryline four minutes into the second half, but seconds later James Stannard responded with a blistering solo run to score in the corner. Maintaining their composure, Australia managed to turn over the ball and set up some strong phases for Kennewell to dart through the Russian defence in the last 30 seconds to score the match-winning try, which Stannard converted.

Australia 14 lost to Samoa 21

Against the reigning Paris 7s champions, Samoa, the Australians adopted an impressive line speed in defence early on to keep the explosive Samoans under pressure. Forced to play with six men after McNamara was sent off with a red card after a dangerous tackle and cynical play, the Aussie men managed to score the first five points thanks to some strong running from Hutchison and Kennewell on the wing, which set up a try for Stannard.

Ahead 7-0 at half time, the Australia’s valiant six-man defensive effort was not enough to pacify Samoa, who scored three impressive tries in the second half. An incredible run from Malouf down the centre of the field where he escaped multiple Samoan tackles allowed Alex Gibbon to score a consolation try after the buzzer, narrowing the final score to 14-21.

Australia 14 lost to Fiji 31

With both teams having fallen to Samoa earlier, it was do or die for both teams in the final match of Day One. Australia were unable to capitalise when Fiji was a man down due to a yellow card, and it was the island nation who registered the first try through Nacuqu. A break from Stannard allowed Charlie Taylor to score in Australia’s corner soon afterwards, which was followed by an excellent conversion from the sideline from Stannard. A try after the half time buzzer to Fiji put them in front 14-7 at the break.

Australia had the early momentum in the second half, but Fiji were quick to take advantage of the first turnover, rapidly converting it into a quick five points from their own half. Australia countered with try to Hutchison, but once again there was no time to relax, as Fiji responded with another five-pointer moments later. Malouf was centimetres from scoring seconds before the buzzer, but a knock on at the tryline was all Fiji needed to scoop up the ball and race away for a final try.

HSBC Sevens World Series, Paris, Day One results:

Australia 19-12 Russia

Australia 14-21 Samoa

Australia 14-31 Fiji