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Australia seal last eight berth after victory over South Africa

11 August 2016

RUGBY: The Australian men’s rugby sevens side has turned the formbook on its head to see off a red-hot South African side and qualify for this afternoon’s quarter-finals in Deodoro.

Seeking a win to keep their Rio 2016 Olympics campaign alive, the Aussies dug deep to register a critical win through Jesse Parahi and Tom Cusack.

With Lewis Holland ruled out with a hamstring injury last night, head coach Andy Friend drafted in an extra forward to the starting seven in the shape of Tom Cusack to combat South Africa’s physicality at the breakdown.

Friend’s decision paid off as Australia took advantage of the few opportunities on offer to win two tries to one. Deadly winger Seabala Senatla scored for the South Africans midway through the second period to make it a nervy end for Aussie fans in the crowd but the green and gold held on for a famous win.

Captain Ed Jenkins, who issued a rallying cry last night in the post-match media conference after a below-par day one, said: “We didn’t see the results panning out the way they did, that’s for sure. Japan beating New Zealand threw a spanner in the works and us dropping that game against France didn’t help at all.

“We were a completely different side today and it’s good to have some momentum going into the quarter-finals later today. There are no second chances from here on in.”

James Stannard sustained a nasty cut to his head late in the second half in winning a penalty at the breakdown and Jenkins admitted that was a “big play” in the game.

“We went into the game knowing it was do-or-die and there was a lot of tremendous efforts in that game. Chucky [Stannard] picked up a few stitches for his efforts too.”

Final score: Australia 12 (T: Parahi, Cusack; C: Stannard) South Africa 5 (T: Senatla)

When the later pool games were concluded the draw for the Cup quarter-finals was complete and Australia will once again face South Africa, with the kick-off at 7.30am AEST (6.30am local).

Steve Stammers
olympics.com.au

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