Australia claim London 7s crown
May 23, 2010
Australia's James Stanard lifts the silverware following his side's victory at the London 7s at Twickenham © Getty Images
Australia beat South Africa in a thrilling final at Twickenham to win the London Sevens and claim a first Cup title on the IRB Sevens World Series since Brisbane in 2002.
Without the injured Clinton Sills, Australia forged ahead and Brackin Karauria-Henry's converted try gave them a 7-0 lead that they held until Fabian Juries' opportunist chip-and-chase drew the Boks level on the stroke of half time. The brilliant James Stannard found a gap in the South African defence to put his Australian side back into the lead but again it was Juries who took the ball at full pace and cut back for a 14-12 lead.
With two minutes to go, though, it was the tournament's outstanding forward Henry Vanderglas on hand to latch on to another clever Wallaby offload and power over for a 19-14 Australia lead. Cecil Afrika then looked certain to score the winner but was brilliantly tackled by sweeper Stannard.
In beating closest rivals New Zealand to reach the Cup semi finals Samoa took a giant stride towards a first ever IRB Sevens World Series title and take a seven-point lead from the second-placed kiwis to Murrayfield for the season climax next weekend. New Zealand did recover from that loss to beat Fiji in the Plate final but to take a ninth World Series crown they will need to win in Edinburgh and hope Samoa do not make the final.
In the other competitions Canada beat Portugal at the death in a fine Bowl final and Kenya also needed all 14 minutes to beat France and claim the Shield. England's home title defence came to an end at the Cup quarter final stages when they were beaten by South Africa.
Australia were the first side through to the London Cup final, beating Argentina 26-14 to reach their first IRB Sevens Cup final since February 2002 in Brisbane. Clinton Sills and Watisoni Votu of Fiji both crossed for hat tricks in a pulsating quarter final which the Wallabies won in the last minute 29-28 and in the semi final against Argentina Sills added two more tries to take his tally to nine for the tournament, but looked to be suffering from a leg injury in the latter stages.
The Springbok Seven put in a superb display to beat the impressive Samoans 24-12, Ryno Benjamin, Chris Dry, Cecil Afrika and the returning Fabian Juries all crossing for tries. South Africa earlier beat England 17-12 in front of over 40,000 fans at Twickenham. With the score at 0-0, England captain Ben Gollings saw yellow midway through the first half and in his absence the Boks took control of the match. MJ Mentz scored a first try and they led 17-0 at the half after tries from Ryno Benjamin and Cecil Afrika. England hit back through Tom Varndell but South Africa slowed play down cleverly and Tom Powell's late try was nothing more than a consolation.
New Zealand won a famous victory against Fiji in the Plate final, Sherwin Stowers sprinting clear well after the final hooter had sounded to clinch a 26-24 win when Isake Katonibau's try looked to have given Fiji the win with only 30 seconds remaining. In clawing back the victory New Zealand also kept alive their hopes of claiming a 9th IRB Sevens World Series title. They will win the 2009/2010 season should they take the Edinburgh Cup title and Samoa fail to reach the Cup final in Murrayfield, although Samoa do now lie seven points clear.
Earlier, Fiji won through to the final by beating Wales 22-10 and England suffered double heartbreak in losing to New Zealand 22-19 in the second semi, Kurt Baker's length of the field try sealing victory in the dying seconds when captain Ben Gollings looked to have inspired a home win.
Canada followed a dramatic 22-17 semi final victory over rivals USA to beat Portugal 19-17 and claim the London Bowl title. Sean Duke's supreme pace was a welcome addition to the Canada squad, which was again impeccably led by captain Phil Mack. Portugal hit back to lead 17-12 late on, but Justin Mensah-Coker's try sealed the win. The semi final had finished in even more dramatic circumstances, Mack making an incredible cover tackle at 17-all in extra time before Duke sprinted the length of the field to score the golden try.
Captain Humphrey Kayange's two tries inspired Kenya to come from behind against France and Dennis Mwanja's score at the death sealed a dramatic 24-21 win in the Shield final for Kenya against France. Earlier the Kenyans came from behind to beat Russia 21-17.
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