Australia & New Zealand Inaugural Oceania Rugby U18s Sevens Championships

Oceania Rugby, Sun Apr 22, 2018 5:52PM

Kiwis book spot at 2018 Youth Olympic Games

After the final pool matches concluded on Sunday morning, Samoa went into the final undefeated to face Australia, who’s only loss was at the hands of the Samoan outfit. Australia determined not to have a repeat of the pool match started strong with a try early in the first half courtesy of Jordan Williams. Less than a minute later Australian captain Jack Walsh scored the first of his three tries to see the score 10-0 before Samoa’s quick response with a converted try put them 3 down.

Walsh’s second try was successfully converted by John Connolly putting the score 17-7 at half time. Samoa were unable to break through the tight Australian outfit who added a further three tries in the second half to take out the Oceania Rugby U18 Boy's Sevens Championship 32 – 7.

Jack Walsh, Australian Captain speaking after the game said, “It was a really good game, for us we kind of just built into it throughout the whole tournament. We just stuck to our structure, obviously we came off against a loss against Samoa in the start but from thereon we built further, and it was good to get a win in the last game."

"We really bonded well throughout the week and the team came through for each other and we got that real team environment, no singles, just everyone together. The rugby standard was unreal, you had no easy games. All the teams were really good and had the ability to win” Walsh added.

Fiji defeated Tonga in the 3rd/4th place play off 21-14 and Cook Islands finished the weekend strongly with a 41-5 win over Solomon Islands in the 5th/6th play off.

There was little separating Trans-Tasmin rivals Australia and New Zealand who both went into the girls final with three wins a piece. New Zealand scored the first points with a successfully converted try scored by Iritana Hohaia. Australia responded immediately with a try of their own through Hagiga Mosby. In the final minute of the first half Jakiya Whitfeld was shown a yellow card resulting in a Kiwi try on half time for Montessa Tairakena with New Zealand heading into the break 14-7.

The second half saw possession change hands often with no alteration to the scoreboard before a second yellow card for the Aussie’s saw Courtney Hodder miss the last 2 minutes of the game. Tairakena again took advantage of a player short Australian outfit to score her second for the match which was successfully converted by Risaleaana Pouri-Lane. A kick and chase from half way with ten seconds to go was unsuccessful for Australia leading to New Zealand claiming bragging rights and the qualification spot to 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games in October 21-7.

New Zealand Captain Jazmin Felix-Hotham said, “We knew coming into this day it was going to be really hard and we are so happy to come away with a win and represent our country. Our goal was to win this tournament and we want to say a huge thank you to all our supporters and our families. Both the Australian and Fiji teams were real good quality and I hope they can keep building themselves to become even better.”

Australian Boys and New Zealand Girls will need to be selected by their respective National Olympic Committees as the nominated team sport to attend the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games in October.

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Last updated: Sunday April 22, 2018 8:02PM