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‘We were pretty terrible’: Australia show ‘ticker’ on road to Cape Town final

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

When the full-time siren sounded to bring an end to Australia’s Cape Town SVNS match against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand on Saturday, the Aussies didn’t look like a contender.

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Australia had opened their campaign at the Western Cape venue with a promising 27-7 win over Olympics-bound Samoa before an emphatic loss to the All Blacks Sevens that afternoon.

World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year nominee Leroy Carter scored three tries as New Zealand ran away with a commanding 35-5 win, but it’s not like Australia’s campaign was over.

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With an opportunity to book their ticket to the quarter-finals against Canada, Australia made no mistake – and it was just the start of something special as they continued their SVNS redemption.

Australia blitzed the Boks 28-nil in front of their home fans and later booked their ticket to the big dance at Cape Town Stadium with a 17-point win over traditional sevens powerhouse Fiji.

With coach John Manenti leading the way, the Aussies have secured their spot in the Cape Town SVNS final – an appearance that once seemed unlikely, but the Aussie didn’t hear no bell.

“We were pretty terrible against New Zealand yesterday but we learned a lot from it,” coach Manenti told RugbyPass. “It’s a group that’s resilient and we’re learning from our mistakes.

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“Last week we weren’t fantastic either and we had a couple of decent performances yesterday but obviously we had to come out this morning and beat South Africa here which was tough.

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“Beating Fiji (in the semi-final). In both games, we defended really well with one try in the two games.

“Argies again, next level. We’re excited. We’re running on empty – the boys are running on empty but I’m sure the emotion will get them up and just find one more performance.”

Australia’s road to the cup final in Cape Town is quite impressive on its own, but the greater picture makes the men in gold’s journey all that more incredible and special.

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Just a week ago, the Aussie bowed out of the Dubai SVNS with a “frustrating” quarter-final exit – but they were once on the cusp of finishing in the final four after two pool stage defeats.

The Australians have clearly channelled that disappointment and learned their lessons from the week that was. Now, they’re focused on letting their “actions” do their talking and showing “ticker” out on the field.

“We had a couple of themes this week,” Manenti said.

“One of them was actions because we spoke a lot of what we were gonna do and didn’t do it so one was actions and one was ticker.

“Probably that last chase from young Henry Palmer to stop a try probably when the game was safe but we still fought hard. Under fatigue, that was ticker.

“I’m proud of them. We’re improving… but we’ve got to learn to win these games now.

“Last year in Hong Kong was the last time we won so we’re really keen to have a bloody crack at it tonight.”

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