Ella 'proud' of his young Aussie battlers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 March, 2005, 12:00am

Two-times World Cup finalists Australia came close to scoring a shock victory over rivals New Zealand, going down 24-20 in their epic semi-final.

Following a dramatic 15-14 victory over South Africa in the quarter-finals, the young Aussie side coached by former sevens star Glen Ella showed typical battling spirit against the Kiwis.

Fighting back from 24-10 down, Australia were on the attack in the dying seconds needing a try for victory. They had the line in sight but chose to take on the defence instead of flinging the ball out wide.

'I told the boys I'm extremely proud of them,' said Ella. 'No one expected us to beat them but we just decided to give it a dig. We should have scored at the end, maybe playing the ball out wide instead of making contact but it's something they will learn from.'

Australia's points came from Anthony Sauer and Kieran Massey, both scoring twice.

'We believed in ourselves because we have the ability in the team,' said Ella.

Meanwhile, South Africa vowed to return stronger than before after suffering cup heartbreak following a quarter-final defeat. The Springboks had a chance to win the match at the death but failed to capitalise.

South Africa coach Paul Treu lamented missed opportunities.

'It's so disappointing when you come so close. We had the opportunity to win the game in the end. We could have taken the three points by taking a drop goal but unfortunately we lost the ball in the contact,' said Treu.

'We are all disappointed but the guys have shown character and commitment by fighting back after that loss to Tunisia [in the pool matches],' said Treu.

'We have to take the positives [from the tournament]. We're still a young team and we came here for the experience. We can come back and learn from our mistakes for our next three tournaments, beginning with [next month's] Singapore Sevens. We'll be back, make no mistake about that.'