Men’s Sevens World Cup: First up loss to France ends Aussie hopes

Photo: Mike Lee @ KLC fotos for World Rugby

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While the Aussie Women’s Sevens team began planning for their semi-final meeting with France, the Men were left to ponder what might have been, after bowing out of a medals chance at the first hurdle, ironically, at the hands of their own French counterparts.

Having led twice in the first half, Australia found themselves 17-10 behind with time running out. A last minute converted try looked to have ensured extra-time, only for Les Bleus to break their hearts with the latest of late tries to steal it at the death, 22-17.

The first-up loss was unexpected, and is a bitter pill for a squad that was looking to stamp its mark under recently arrived head coach Tim Walsh.

“Everyone is hurting immensely, but you can’t win games when you’re letting through that many breaks and missed tackles,” conceded Walsh. “Even at the end there we have control of the ball and we turn it over.

“You can walk off the field and be proud with the way you play. But I know the boys will be disappointed because that wasn’t our best and there were errors there which cost us. That’s the nature of the game.”

Australia now face Russia in the Challenge Quarter-Final, to be played at 7:48am AEST tomorrow morning.

France celebrate_RWC 2018_WR

France celebrate victory at the final whistle – Photo: Mike Lee @ KLC fotos for World Rugby

France were only confirmed as Australia’s opponents in the last 16 after they had dismissed Jamaica 50-0 in the qualifying round a few hours earlier. Hindsight may suggest that the extra game was more of a help than a hindrance, but it was definitely those in green and gold that settled first.

They opened the scoring when Lachie Anderson profited from a tidy kick through from Tom Lucas, only for France to strike back from a 50-metre run-in from Tavite Veredamu. And the tit-for-tat nature of the scoreboard continued when Ben O’Donnell finished off some fine work from Maurice Longbottom, closely followed by a five-pointer from Terry Bouhraoua that put Les Bleus 12-10 up at the break.

France came out after the restart and began to take control of proceedings, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and making it count when Kevin Bly finished off an overlap in the corner.

Staring down the barrel of an early exit, the Aussies needed something and fast. They got it when Longbottom burst through a hole and put Henry Hutchison away on his comeback game in the Sevens jersey, following a frustrating time at the Melbourne Rebels.

A terrific conversion from John Porch looked certain to take the game into golden point extra-time. But it just wasn’t meant to be, the elusive Veredamu going through the gears to beat Lewis Holland and race home for the match-winner.

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ROUND OF 16
Australia 17-22 France

Tries: Lachie Anderson, Ben O’Donnell, Henry Hutchison
Cons: John Porch

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