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Ireland and Argentina squash Australia’s hopes of historic home SVNS double

By Finn Morton
Rodrigo Isgro of Argentina and team mates celebrates with supporters after winning the 2024 Perth SVNS men's Cup Final match between Argentina and Australia at HBF Park on January 28, 2024 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Ireland and Argentina have ended Australia’s hopes of claiming their first SVNS ‘double’ on home soil since 2018 by defeating the hosts in the Cup finals at HBF Park on Saturday evening.

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The hometown favourite’s women’s and men’s teams searched for their own slice of Australian rugby history in Perth after booking their places in their respective deciders.

With the crowd well and truly in the corner, and with both teams buzzing with a renewed sense of confidence on the back of that support, many on Australia’s west coast dared to dream.

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Australia, who had beaten traditional sevens rivals New Zealand in a thrilling quarter-final on the tournament’s second day, were matched up with Ireland on the women’s side of the draw.

Led by captain Charlotte Caslick, the women in gold were met with a stunning cheer from the home crowd as they made their way onto the field at the Perth venue.

This was their moment, but Ireland had other plans.

Captain Caslick opened the scoring in the second minute, but Ireland’s Amee Leigh Murphy Crow cancelled that out with her own effort shortly after. The opposing teams traded try-scoring blows in the second half, too, as the hotly contested battle neared its final moments.

With the game clock ticking ever close to full-time, Ireland had their chance. They were awarded a scrum with a few minutes left and they ended up making the most of it.

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Try-scoring hero Eve Higgins broke through the golden defensive line to secure Ireland’s first-ever Cup final title in the women’s side of the draw. History was made in Perth.

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“Losing at home always hurts,” captain Caslick told reporters.

“I think the emotional toll and the lack of discipline really let us down. Regardless of the result, we know we have a lot to work on.”

The Australian women were hurting. Coach Tim Walsh, who spoke after Charlotte, was still speaking with reporters when the fireworks went off ahead of the men’s Cup final.

Australia had another opportunity to taste final glory in front of their home fans, but a menacing challenge awaited the men’s team.

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Argentina have been the form team of the 2023/24 season so far. Led by try-scoring machine Marcos Moneta, Los Pumas Sevens took out the SVNS Cape Town final last month.

In that final at the Western Cape venue in South Africa, Argentina beat Australia. It was a chance to make amends for the Aussie, and an opportunity for the Argentinians to double down.

Moneta was the star once again. Two tries sank Australian hearts, while Grman Schulz and Matteo Graziano (two) helped the visitors record a commanding Cup final win.

The final score was 31-5.

“We try not to focus too much around results,” Manenti told reporters. “Especially here at home, it would’ve been easy to talk about winning, winning, winning.

“From where we were on Friday, the first game, to make the final was a real improvement from the boys. We want to keep growing.

“The end goal for the season is Paris. It would’ve been nice to win here, absolutely, but we’re not quite where we need to be and it’s important that we learn to be in that environment and we’re fighting for medals.

“I think this was the first time we’ve been in back-to-back finals since about 2015 which is a really good achievement for the boys.

“What I’m striving for as a group is consistency, so if we can put ourselves in that position to be competing for medals… the more exposure we can have to that, the better we’re going to be at playing under pressure.

“Argentina are a red hot side… I think they are, at the moment, they are a class ahead of the field and the rest of us are fighting hard… at the moment they’re in real control of where they’re at.

“We’re aspiring to knock them off and we’ll get them at some stage. We’ll wear them down and we’ll get them.

“But at the moment there’s a little bit of space between them and the field and that’s us included.”

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