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How Aussie 7s' Achilles heel could get them 'in trouble'

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Reigning World Series champions Australia have begun their Sydney Sevens campaign with two wins from as many matches, but their Achilles heel is starting to show.

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The home side beat Canada 22-7 in front of a vibrant Sydney crowd on Saturday, which sets up a blockbuster against Hamilton Sevens champions Argentina to round out pool play.

But the first-half of the match felt awfully familiar. Australian rugby fans may have experienced a sense of déjà vu as the men gold were made to earn their win.

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Just as they did against Great Britain on Friday, Australia have to come from behind in order to beat a valiant Canadian side who were desperate for a victory.

Canada scored first through Brock Webster in the fifth minute, before the Aussies scored 22 unanswered points.

Men’s Head Coach John Manenti wasn’t pleased with his sides first half performance against Great Britain on Friday, and his post-game comments followed a similar theme after the Canadian clash.

Slow stars have hurt the men in gold in both of their matches so far in Sydney, and Manenti warned that they “can get you in trouble” in sevens.

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“It’s been a big work on for us because in sevens, slow starts can get you in trouble,” Manenti told reporters.

“I feel like there’s a little bit of thinking that ‘it’s just gonna happen.’ We’ve just got to be prepared to grind a little bit.

“We’re a different sort of team to some of the teams here; we grind teams, we out work them, we don’t necessarily come out from the get-go and blow teams away and that’s okay.

“We’ve got our own identity but we also can’t miss opportunities and that will ultimately get us if we don’t do it better in the next few games.”

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Australia are currently first in the Pool A standings, while Great Britain and Argentina are locked in a tense battle for second as they’re both on four competition points.

Should the men in gold beat Argentina in their final pool match, then a clash with either France or Fiji potentially awaits them in the quarter-finals.

“France can’t be underestimated, France can knock Fiji off so there’s no guarantee that if don’t top the pool you don’t get Fiji anyway,” he added.

“Some of the top teams are still struggling for consistency. When they’re hot, they’re red hot, but they’ll still have a bad game occasionally.

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“All we can do is worry about us, focus on what we’re going to do against Argentina and then we worry about who we play after that.

“I am noticing that a lot of the top teams are firing on all cylinders so hopefully they get it out of their system.”

Australian sevens star James Turner scored two tries for the home side, during their 22 point onslaught against Canada.

Speaking after the match, Turner said Australia are a “deadly team with the ball” but they also pride themselves on “defending quite well” – which will be important against Argentina.

“I think we just love defence at the moment,” Turner said. “Haven’t had a lot of ball.

“We’re a deadly team with the ball but I think we’re really working on not being with the ball and defending quite well.

“We take a lot of pride in our defence, we just love each other so that’s why we do it.

“Our defence, (Argentina are) big boys, you’ve got to throw the kitchen sink at them when you tackle them.

“All we’ve got to do is tackle them I guess, essentially.”

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J
Jon 44 minutes ago
How Maro Itoje terrorised the All Blacks lineout

Yeah England were much smarter, they put their much vaster experience to use in both the scrum (bending/not taking hit) and lineout (Itoje early sacks) law vagaries. Really though, I know what is there, I’m more worried about Englands locks. We only got to see Itoje and Martin, right? Depth allround in the England camp was probably the difference in the series and the drop off when Itoje reached his minutes limit for the season (it was like the plug was pulled from the charger) was up there with keeping Sexton on the park in that quarter final. What happened there? You have a lot of watching hours experience with locks come blindsides Nick, especially with a typical Australian player make up, have you see a six the size of Barrett absolutely dominate the position and his opposition? I can easily see Scott, and even Martin for that matter, moving to the blindside and playing like Tadgh Beirne with the amount of top locks we have coming through to partner Patrick. Still with the English mindset, because despite running the best All Black team I’ve seen in a long time close, they do need to find improvement, and although I thought they had a lot of good performances from their 7’s (over the years), I really like the prospect of Cunningham-South in his 8 spot and Earl on the open. Can you see Martin as mobile enough to take over Lawes? I absolutely loved his aggression when Jordie ran upto him to try and grab the ball. That alone is enough reason for me to try him there.

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