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‘We scraped through’: Australia suffer ‘frustrating’ quarters exit at Dubai SVNS

By Finn Morton
Australia huddle after their defeat during the 2023 Sydney Sevens match between Australia and France at Allianz Stadium on January 28, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Australia showed plenty of fight and risked landing a knockout blow against a heavyweight contender at the Dubai SVNS, but South Africa stood tall and held on for a big win in the quarterfinals.

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After losing to Ireland in their opening match of the new-look SVNS Series, the Aussies were left on the brink of elimination after a 31-14 thumbing by Argentina on Saturday afternoon.

In an interview with RugbyPass, captain Nick Malouf insisted the Aussies weren’t lacking in motivation ahead of a must-win clash with Spain later that evening. One more loss would end their campaign.

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But a convincing win over Espana saw the Aussies qualify as one of the best-ranked third-placed teams in the men’s draw. Waiting for them was reigning Dubai champions South Africa.

The Blitzboks shot out of the blocks with quick tries to Quewin Nortje and Zain Davids, but a yellow card just before the half made things interesting. Aussie Nathan Lawson scored to make it a one-score game about a minute later.

Australia controlled possession for noticeable periods to start the second term, but a brilliant try to Rosko Specman swung the momentum back in South Africa’s favour. The result was never really in doubt from there.

“South Africa is a world-class team,” Australia sevens ace Josh Turner told RugbyPass. “They executed well off our mistakes, they turned the ball over, finished a lot of their tries.

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“We were there but couldn’t quite get our performance to the level that we’re at.

“To be fair we scraped through yesterday. We played well in the last game yesterday but we didn’t play well in the first two games.

“In the new sevens circuit, third place goes through if you’re the top of the two pools so we scraped through. We still a fight, it doesn’t really matter what happens on day one but South Africa turned up and they were just a little bit better than us.”

After making their way off the field at The Sevens Stadium and away from the watchful eyes of their supporters, the Aussies made their way down the tunnel to regroup.

Banded together as brothers-in-arms, the Australians continued to process the defeat as coach John Manenti spoke passionately to the group.

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While it was clear that the coach was proud of the team’s efforts, this Australian outfit is certainly capable of more – but they’ll have to wait a week to prove that in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Yeah, frustrating but we put the effort in. We train hard, one team is going to win it all this weekend and it’s just not us this weekend,” Turner added.

“(Coach John Manenti) was just saying the effort was there, we just didn’t have the fine detail to finish a few things off.

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“They turned us over at the ruck because we knew they’re gonna come hard at the ruck and they turned that over into tries.

“It’s really all who turns up in that game and yesterday we didn’t turn up in the first two, we turned up in the last one. We had glimpses, we probably played 10 good minutes out there and South Africa probably played 14 good minutes.

“One team wins the whole thing, everyone’s great, everyone’s good in the competition so you’ve got to turn up to win it.”

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Eabn 8 hours ago
Open-minded Schmidt takes hands-on approach to Australia challenge

Who cares - boring is good when it comes to Media - they don’t bug you as much. While the focus is on the resurrection of the Wallabies, don’t forget the grass roots - Any opportunity you have to visit, train or promote Rugby down here in Melbourne / Regional is pretty much imperative given the current situation with the Rebels. I’m talking about us grass roots clubs and more so, clubs in the West of Melbourne who are being absolutely smashed by Rugby League and who have been contributing directly to the game down here long before the Rebels emerged and no doubt will do so well after they may be gone. All I have heard is all about the elite level, not the grass roots level so while the talk is about “ The Wallabies” and “Super Rugby Pacific” get back to the roots of Union and include us in your plans. So Phil Waugh and those leaders within RugbyAustralia, it’s on you to ensure the bottom feeders, so to speak, are included in all the talk and the funding if you want Union to regain ground and more respect within the Union and also the broader sporting fraternity. Given you have been in Melbourne a number off times over the last month, extending the courtesy of having a meet and greet with Victorian grass root clubs eluded you for some reason. Do we count or matter in RA’s and yours bigger picture?? Ean Drummond - Club Founder/President - Wyndham City Rhinos RUFC Inc. Hoppers Crossing, Melbourne.

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