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‘Got a good chance’: Australia preparing for must-win Dubai SVNS clash

By Finn Morton
Australia captain Nick Malouf speaks with RugbyPass after the loss to Argentina in Dubai. Picture: Ian Cameron/RugbyPass

For a team that would’ve had genuine ambitions of taking out the Dubai SVNS this weekend, Australia stands on the brink of elimination following two pool stage defeats at The Sevens Stadium.

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Halfback Matthew Gonzalez helped Australia take an early lead against Ireland on Saturday, but three unanswered tries saw the men in green run away with a hard-fought 19-12 win.

Australia would’ve been desperate to bounce back, and while they showed plenty of fight and character in their second match, they were comfortably beaten 31-14 by a red-hot Argentina side.

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Put your calculators away Australian rugby fans, the equation is quite simple. If the Aussies lose to Spain on Saturday night in Dubai then they’re out of contention for the big prize.

But there is hope. The better third-placed rank sides in pool play can qualify for the quarterfinals – but the Aussies need win to give themselves a chance.

“If we don’t win this we’re playing in the bottom four tomorrow,” captain Nick Malouf told RugbyPass following the loss to Argentina.

“If that’s not motivation enough to come and have a good result then I’m not sure what is.”

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It might be the nature of the fast-moving SVNS world but it’s easy to forget that Australia were the kings of the sevens world before New Zealand.

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With the likes of Malouf, Maurice Longbottom and Henry Patterson among their ranks, Australia lifted the World Sevens Series trophy for the first time at Twickenham in 2022.

But the Aussies weren’t able to consistently maintain that last season. With coach John Manenti at the helm, they’ve continued to work hard ahead of season 2023/24 – but it hasn’t been clicking quite yet.

“Transferring a lot of what we’ve worked on in training into the game, there’s just a little bit of a disconnect there,” Malouf said.

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“We’ve had a really good preseason so preparation is certainly not to fault, it’s just a little bit of execution at the moment.

“For whatever reason it’s not coming together but we’ll rest up now. We’ve got a good chance against a good Spanish side tonight to try and get a win on the board moving into tomorrow.”

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