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'Give them this grace': Aussie coach not satisfied with thrilling win

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Australian Men’s Sevens team may have beaten Great Britain 12-7 in a thriller on Friday afternoon, but Head Coach John Manenti isn’t satisfied.


Playing in front of their home crowd at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium, the men in gold showed glimpse of genius; deserving of their label as reigning World Series champions during moments of brilliance.

Dietrich Roache sent the home crowd into a frenzy with a brilliant try three minutes into the titanic battle, which saw Australia take an early 5-nil lead.

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But what followed was far from perfect.

It didn’t all go to plan for the men in gold.

Australia wasted a number of genuine try scoring opportunities during the first-half.

A number of ‘what ifs’ began to plague the minds of those in attendance, as Australia failed to put the game to bed when they probably should’ve.


As for their opponents, they made the most of their many lives.

Robbie Fergusson scored a try after the half-time siren, which saw Great Britain take a two-point lead into the break.

Australia were able rectify their mistakes with a defensive masterclass in the second term, as Henry Paterson scoring the go-ahead try, but the performance was far from perfect.

“I think we turned (the ball) over four times in the first half in possession, and I think three of them probably should’ve been tries,” Head Coach John Manenti told reporters.


“I’ll give the boys, there was probably a little bit of anxiousness and wanting to do well, so I told them I’d give them this grace and tried to stay calm because that performance is not going to win us too many games of football.

“Defended pretty well… but we had three pretty clear opportunities to score tries in that first (half), we should’ve iced the game by halftime.

“They know that, they know that. I know they’ll be feeling very emotional around playing here today and being a little bit excited and wanting to really do well.

“That’ll be good to get that out of the system, go home tonight, start again tomorrow.”

Australia boasts a talented squad of players, which includes some world class talent.

Gone are the days where mediocrity is tolerated: this team expects to win, especially in front of their home fans.

“We actually had to defend really well to win that game,” he added.

“We want to be a great team, and to be a great team you’ve got to perform and be consistent every time you play.”

With their backs up against the wall, the Australians needed a hero on their home deck.


The hosts threw everything at their fierce rivals Great Britain, but couldn’t quite get things to work as they might’ve hoped.

But that all changed two minutes into the second half.

Henry Paterson crossed for a pivotal score in the ninth minute, and later made a monstrous hit in defence with the full-time siren beckoning.

“The best teams find a way through their consistency and that’s sort of where we want to be,” Paterson said.

“To be able to not perform at our best but still be able to beat a quality side like GB, it’s good signs for us.

“Everyone’s just really keen, it’s more just eagerness and you can sort of trip over yourself, not so much nerves.

“It’s been a real good vibe all week, everyone’s super keen to play well in front of their friends and family. Maybe that eagerness caused us to push a few passes at the start.

“When you hold a good team like that in sevens to one try, and they had plenty of ball; while it mightn’t have been the prettiest game, we sure had the desire and that’s something you can build off and win a tourney with.”

The Australian men’s team are one and done on Friday, but will return to Allianz Stadium for two crucial games tomorrow.

First up, the men in gold are set to come up against Canada tomorrow morning. Canada will be eager to avenge their painful loss to Argentina on Friday afternoon.

Then, later in the day, Australia have a date with destiny – coming up against last weekend’s Hamilton Sevens winners Argentina in the afternoon.


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