Australia defeated Samoa 28-26 in dramatic fashion the final of the Tokyo Sevens to become the fifth Cup winners in the HSBC Sevens World Series 2011/12.
19-year-old Matt Lucas held his nerve to slot a long-range conversion in the dying seconds after his captain Ed Jenkins had crossed to level the scores.
Lucas was one of four teenagers in Michael O'Connor's Australia squad, which has grown in confidence and stature throughout the season.
Alafoti Fa'osiliva crossed first in the final but a quickfire Shannon Walker brace fired Australia into the lead and although Alatasi Tupou scored for Samoa the young Wallabies held a narrow lead at the break.
Damon Anderson stretched that lead in the second half but USA Sevens champions Samoa hit back twice through Fa'osiliva and Ken Pisi to nudge themselves ahead. However, Australia were to have the final say, captain Ed Jenkins leading by example and diving for the line before Lucas capped a remarkable performance by striking the conversion clean through the posts for the win.
New Zealand now lead the HSBC Sevens World Series on 128 points, only six clear of Fiji. South Africa are third in 105, one ahead of England and four clear of Samoa in fifth. Australia's victory leaves them in sixth place on 84.
Earlier the Australians put in a superb performance to beat first Wales and then England 33-12 in their semi final, including 11 points from Allan Fa'alava'au whilst Samoa beat pacific rivals Fiji and New Zealand en route to their second Cup final of the Series.
Fiji earn vital points in Plate
Fiji held on for a 14-10 victory against South Africa in the Plate final to earn crucial points towards their Series tally.
Waisea Nayacalevu and Nikola Matawalu scored Fiji's tries, but it was two missed conversions by South Africa's Renfred Dazel which proved the difference.
Earlier, two Stephan Dippenaar tries helped South Africa book their place in the Plate final by beating Wales 22-10.
France beat USA to Bowl
France lifted the Bowl trophy in Tokyo after beating USA 17-12 in the final thanks to tries from Manoel Dall Igna, Paul Albaladejo and Renaud Delmas.
Les Bleus booked their place in the final after beating Hong Kong 26-15 in the first semi whilst Alex Magleby's side beat Portugal 20-10.
Scotland lift first silverware in Tokyo
Scotland beat Kenya 26-12 in the Shield final to lift the first piece of silverware at the 2012 Tokyo Sevens.
In the semi finals James Fleming's late second try snatched a 21-19 victory against Russia in the semi finals, whilst Humphrey Kayange's second try also secured a dramatic 24-17 win over hosts Japan.
The United States beat Portugal 20-10 to claim a third-straight win in Tokyo and advance to the Bowl final.
The Eagles put the pressure on first directly after the kickoff, but Shalom Suniula knocked on an Andrew Durutalo pass in attack. Rocco Mauer had a big run in the possession, splitting two defenders and drawing another before passing.
Portgual traded possession with the USA before being awarded an offside penalty near midfield. They went wide, and Mauer was fended easily, allowing a breakaway that would lead to Portgual scoring the first try. The conversion was missed.
The Eagles again went on attack, and Suniula penetrated the defensive line. Zack Test got the ball in support and bullied his way over the line.
Test scored his second try to put the Eagles up 10-5 just before intermission, using a powerful stiff arm on the wing.
Portgual drew level after a pair of USA penalties. After the first, awarded near USA’s defending 22, Suniula didn’t retreat the full 10 meters before intercepting a pass. Portugal scored immediately after the five-meter quick tap.
Colin Hawley regained the lead by slicing through a tired Portugese defense and dotting down.
The Eagles secured the ball directly following the restart and won a penalty about 20 meters out with just over 30 seconds to play. Folau Niua elected to kick at goal, and nailed the penalty to secure victory.
The win gives Eagles their third win on the weekend. Not since Australia in the 2010/2011 season have they won three in one event.
Up next in the Bowl final is France, who the Eagles beat in Las Vegas in February.
After falling 14-12 to France in the Bowl final Friday, The Eagles have claimed seven crucial Series points and leapfrogged Scotland, Canada, and Kenya (only just) to sit at no. 10 in the world.
The Eagles went 3-3 in Tokyo with losses coming from quality opponents: Cup semifinalists and Series leaders New Zealand, Tokyo Sevens champions Australia, and the team that snuck by the USA 17-12 in the Bowl Final, France.
Three wins against Hong Kong, Kenya, and Portugal gives new USA Head Coach Alexander Magleby a platform to build on in April as the USA prepares for the Glasgow (May 5-6, 2012) and London Sevens (May 12-13, 2012) and the team its first piece of hardware this season.
Overall the team looked confident and opportunistic in Japan, the result of which was exciting attacking rugby. Rocco Mauer, who was playing college rugby for Bowling Green State just last year, exploded onto the scene in Tokyo scoring four tries, putting him among the elite scorers in the tournament.
Scoring tries is great but wins are better. A basic but comprehensive team approach has allowed the USA to effectively stretch the field and release their danger men, a strategy that will notch victories and build a team's confidence.
"When the game gets simplified a bit, you can get more confident," said Magleby.
Two tournaments (Hong Kong and Tokyo) saw the Eagles improve constantly and the team is still striving to take the next steps forward.
"It's like Aristotle said, 'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' These two tournaments gave us an opportunity to assess the current systems and see how we can get more out of what we're doing," said Magleby.
The coach also praised his team's ability to respond to pressure saying, "Hats off to the guys. We pushed them and they responded well. For us, the important part was getting the culture right on the field and we're getting there. The guys are committed."
The USA will play Pool A opponents Australia, England, and Kenya on May 5 in Glasgow, Scotland. The following week is the final tournament of the 2011-2012 Series in London on May 12-13.
Bowl Final USA 12 Tries: Mauer (2) Cons: Suniula
France 17 Tries: Igna, Albaladejo, Delmas Cons: Acebes -- Bowl Semifinal USA 20 Tries: Test(2), Hawley Cons: Niua Pens: Niua
Portugal 10 Tries: Leal (2) -- Bowl Quarterfinal USA 12 Tries: Hawley, Mauer Cons: Niua
Kenya 7 Tries: Ocholla Cons: Ocholla -- Pool B USA 21 Tries: Test, Durutalo, Mauer Cons: Enosa (3)
Hong Kong 19 Tries: Varty(2), Hood Cons: Hood (2) -- Pool B USA 0
Australia 15 Tries: Yakopo (2), Fa'alava'au -- Pool B USA 5 Tries: Palefau
New Zealand 26 Tries: Cama, Savea, Heem, Piutau Cons: Cama (3)
MARFU's women's DII college final is set: Temple v Shippensburg in a rematch of the EPRU championship. Temple's berth to the MARFU title match evolved in dramatic fashion, as flyhalf Rachel Bandura's penalty fell over the crossbar as the final whistle sounded for the 22-19 win over George Washington.
Temple coach Owen Jones described the match as a conflict of styles. George Washington boasts sizable, strong players who keep play moving downhill.
"There isn't much flair; they just smack you in the face," Jones said of GW. "We do some more exciting stuff - with kicking and passing. It went back and forth the whole match - them smacking us and us running around them."
Freshman inside center Kate Stauffer was on fire today and logged two tries for the Owls, while senior lock Kayleigh Dymond ran in Temple's third try.Bandura slotted two of three conversions and the all-important penalty.
For 30 minutes of the second half, the teams were tied at 19-all, but Temple spent a lot of that time inside their 10 meter, defending several five-meter scrums and holding up at least three GW tries.
"I definitely got a few more gray hairs out of it," Jones said. "For a lot of the game, we were focused on just preventing them from crossing the goalline. When they had the ball, it was very difficult to get it back. So we played patient defense and let them make mistakes."
The final penalty opportunity occurred after one such mistake. With the ball inside Temple's 22 meter, the Owls' tactical kick and chase game moved the team into GW's half. Then Bandura - who experienced similar pressure in a 2010 playoff game - slotted the go-ahead points to close the game.
With Shippensburg's win over Mary Washington, both finalists have booked their ticket to Mobile, Ala., for the national round of 16. That said, Temple isn't letting off the gas as it faces Shippensburg in tomorrow's championship.
"They're our biggest rival, and we're going into this game for the win," Jones said. "Shippensburg is a well-rounded team; they're aggressive and have size but also the skill set to challenge with the kick. It's always a close game with Ship - usually we're within a score of them, but we always seem to come out on the wrong end."
A different Temple squad that played Shippensburg in the fall will take the field tomorrow. The coaching staff typically fields all of its seasoned players in the fall, and not many rookies get their shot on the A side. Tomorrow, four or five freshmen who have worked their way onto the starting will take on the EPRU champs.
"It actually works in our favor," Jones said of the rookies' inexperience in high-level games. They're not clueless, but they don't have that thought in the back of their head of what's on the line."
The third place match between George Washington and Mary Washington is just as important as the final, as MARFU receives three seeds to nationals. Both attended the 2011 tournament, and the winner will head to Columbus, Ohio, for their round of 16 match.
By 2 p.m. tomorrow, we'll know who's playing who at nationals, so stay tuned.
The USA Rugby Division II men's college championships will be webstreamed LIVE by RUGBYMag.com here and on our YouTube Channel.The second semifinal on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 at Greenville, SC will be UW-Whitewater v Minnesota-Duluth.Kickoff is 2:30PM ET.Return here for live webstream. Read more...
The USA Rugby Division II men's college championships will be webstreamed LIVE by RUGBYMag.com here and on our YouTube Channel.The first semifinal on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 at Greenville, SC will be Salisbury v James Madison.Kickoff is 11AM ET.Return here for live webstream. Read more...
After some thrilling playoff games, Penn State will take on Kutztown in the first-ever ACRC Final this coming Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.This game, which kicks off at 1pm ET at Furman University in Greenville, SC, will be webstreamed LIVE by RUGBYMag.com.Return here to see the game, with the broadcast b... Read more...
RUGBYMag.com's live coverage of the ACRA Women's college final four continues with the women's DI semifinals.Stay with RUGBYMag for live coverage and reports.The second DI semi is Army v Navy at 3pm ET on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Read more...
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