Double delight: Australia’s men and women into Perth Sevens finals after semi-final stunners


Six years after Australia’s men and women took out the Sydney Sevens, is history about to repeat itself?

After Australia’s women’s side romped to a 24-7 victory over the USA minus the suspended Levi sisters, Maddison and Teagan, John Manenti’s men’s side continued their remarkable run by taking down Fiji 22-7 in Perth to also qualify for the weekend.

Tim Walsh’s women’s side will take on Ireland at 8:13pm AEDT, before the men come up against Argentina at 8:53pm.

It’s the first time either of Australia’s sevens sides have made a home final since that special January weekend in 2018.

Henry Palmer and Matthew Gonzalez celebrate after beating Fiji to qualify for the Perth Sevens final. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Having stumbled into the last eight after defeats to the USA and Ireland, Australia’s men found form at the right time of the weekend by crushing their North American pool rivals on Saturday.

Just like last month in Cape Town, Australia then backed up the much-improved performance by delivering another superb display by battering Fiji.

Despite Fiji’s endeavour, Australia’s ability to get up off the ground and force their opponents into errors proved to be the catalyst behind their victory.

Australia got on the scoreboard first when Nick Malouf stormed onto a lovely flat pass at the line from playmaker Maurice Longbottom.

But Fiji hit back hard on the stroke of half-time, with Joseva Talacolo scoring under the posts to level the score 7-7 at half-time.

After Nathan Lawson finished off a marvellous long-range try to give the home side a narrow 12-7 lead, a smart thinking drop goal penalty from Longbottom with less than two minutes remaining ensured Fiji would have to score twice to pinch it late from Australia.

The hosts deliver!

Australia men mirror the women’s success, reaching the #HSBCSVNSPER final ???????? #HSBCSVNS | @Aussie7s

— HSBC SVNS (@SVNSSeries) January 28, 2024

They never got a sniff, as 20-year-old Henry Palmer continued to grow in confidence by scoring out wide after running onto a clever pass from Henry Hutchison to ensure Australia went into the final with their tails up.

“I don’t have words, we’re on home soil, the crowd’s amazing,” Longbottom said.

“We started the tournament slow but we’re finishing strong.”

Manenti’s men will now take on Argentina, who they were thumped by in the Cape Town Sevens final.

Longbottom said his side needed to continue to ride the momentum.

“We’ve just got to keep building,” he said.

“We had a good game last night against the US, again against a world-class opposition in Fiji, we’ve just got to keep riding that rocket up to the top.”

Faith Nathan and Kaitlin Shave of Australia celebrate defeating the USA to progress through to the Perth Sevens final at HBF Park on January 28, 2024. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Walsh’s side showed what they can do when they keep seven players on the field by comfortably accounting for the USA by 16 points.

After losing the Levi sisters to red cards in two of the past three matches, Australia’s discipline was much-improved for their semi-final. And it needed to be.

Without the pace and physicality on offer from the Levi sisters, Walsh’s side copped an early blow when young gun Bienne Terita limped off. It left Australia down on subs and genuine game-breakers.

But after dominating possession early, Australia eventually found a way over when Alysia Lefau-Fakaosilea scored under the posts. Sharni Smale, however, missed the easy shot at goals.

The veteran forward made up for her blunder soon after though, scoring to give Australia some breathing space.

Replacement Dominique du Toit then showed off her experience and pace by turning the USA’s defenders inside out by scoring a superb long-range try to break the game open.

Dom left ‘em dizzy! ????️

???? @StanSportAU#Aussie7s #HSBCSVNSPER

— Australia Sevens (@Aussie7s) January 28, 2024

While Naya Tapper hit back in the 10th minute, Kaitlin Shave ensured Australia’s passage through to the final by scoring out wide.

“It’s really exciting,” du Toit said.

“Playing at home is always special, playing a home final tops it all.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.