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Double disappointment: Aussie men and women go down in Perth Sevens finals as Ireland snap hoodoo

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28th January, 2024
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What promised to be a night of celebration has been cooled somewhat after Australia’s men’s and women’s sevens teams were beaten in their respective Perth Sevens finals.

After both national sides made the final for the first time on home soil since 2018, a tournament they swept to historic titles in Sydney, the women’s side were shocked 19-14 by Ireland before Argentina swept away the men 31-5 less than an hour later on Sunday night.

It was Ireland’s first World Series victory, while Argentina reaffirmed their status as Olympic gold favourites by delivering their dominant performance.

It was the second straight tournament Argentina beat the men in gold in a final, with the South Americans smashing Australia 45-12 in Cape Town last month.

A controversial early yellow card to Nathan Lawson hurt Australia’s chances, as the forward was punished for having a pass make contact with his arm in the process of making a tackle.

With a numerical advantage, Argentina found one of the fastest players on the circuit in Marcos Moneta, who ran the 100 metres in 10.1 seconds in 2018, who sprinted away to score.

Australia would have thought they were a chance at half-time as they went into the break trailing just 7-0, but that didn’t last long as Argentina scored four tries in five minutes.

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John Manenti’s side hit back with a late try to get on the scoreboard through Matthew Gonzalez, but it was crystal clear who was the superior side.

Asked what went wrong, captain Nick Malouf, who returned to form throughout the knockout stages as the home side smashed the United States of America and Fiji on their way to the final, the former Leicester and Waratahs winger said they needed to somehow learn to win the ball when play went against them.

“Touch the ball would be a nice start,” he said.

“(We) defended pretty much the whole game. You saw at the end there, we put two or three phases together and we got over the whitewash. They completely starved us of possession. It’s tough to win when you don’t have the footy.

“Sevens minutes can go really quick, a blink of the eye. They had the footy, kept the footy, we never touched it, and they piled the points on and we couldn’t keep them out.”

It was Argentina’s sixth straight cup final and saw them extend their lead at the top of the World Series standings on 58 points – 14 points clear of second place Fiji and a further two over Australia.

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Meanwhile, Tim Walsh’s side suffered their first cup final loss of the year after being outclassed by a gritty Irish side.

Missing strike weapons Maddison Levi (suspension) and Bienne Terita, Australia were forced to defend for much of the match and missed their imposing and main two strike weapons.

Little went right for Australia, including the opening kick restart by Teagan Levi in her first match from a three-game ban, despite Charlotte Caslick opening the scoring.

The home side were forced to defend for much of the first half, which included Caslick being shown a yellow card for a deliberate knockdown in the process of a tackle.

Ireland celebrate defeating Australia to claim their maiden World Series tournament at HBF Park on January 28, 2024 in Perth. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Ireland took a 14-7 lead into the half-time break after tries to Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe and captain Lucy Mulhall.

Levi levelled up the score a 14-14 when she burst onto a neat Caslick ball, but Eve Higgins broke the home side’s hearts by crossing out wide.

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“It’s been a long time coming,” Mulhall said.

“A few of us are 10-11 years waiting for this one, but it means a lot. I think especially this group, we’re so tight off the field and we’ve been on a long journey.

“This is massive for Irish sevens and women’s rugby in Ireland.”

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