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Australia’s rugby 7s team celebrates winning the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series Championship. Photo: AFP

World Rugby Sevens: Australia claim first season crown after finishing third in Los Angeles

  • Victory over Samoa secures title for John Manenti’s team as campaign comes down to final day
  • Australia only fifth team to claim the title since it was first awarded in 2000, following the Kiwis, Samoa, South Africa and Fiji

Australia won a first World Rugby Sevens Series men’s season crown on Sunday with a third-place finish at the campaign-ending Los Angeles Sevens tournament.

The Aussies beat Samoa 21-7 in the third-place match to decide the title as a nine-month fight came down to the final day with Fiji, Argentina, South Africa and Australia all in the hunt for the throne.

Australia became only the fifth nation to claim the title since it was first awarded in 2000, following the Kiwis, Samoa, South Africa and Fiji.

Hong Kong ‘here to stay’ despite falling short at Sevens Challenger Series

“Quite surreal to be honest. I can’t believe we’re here,” John Manenti, the Australia coach, said. “The boys worked hard.

“We’ve had our ups and downs. But these kids fought hard and I’m so proud of them. I’m so happy for them. We’ve done something they will remember forever.”

New Zealand beat Fiji 28-21 in the Los Angeles final, giving the Kiwis their first tournament title of the season.

Fiji won at Singapore in April and in France in May while South Africa won four times and the Aussies won their only tournament at London in May.

Under a special points system used this season because of Covid-19, each team’s total includes its best seven results from the campaign.

Needing no worse than third place to claim the season title, Australia routed Kenya 40-14 in the quarter-finals but lost to Fiji 29-10 in the semi-finals.

That set up the all-or-nothing consolation match, in which Samoan winger Owen Niue scored the first try.

Fiji’s Jerry Tuwai (centre) and New Zealand’s Amanaki Nicole reach for the ball during the final at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. Photo: AFP

Corey Toole and Henry Paterson answered with first-half tries for Australia and Dietrich Roache added another with 4:15 remaining to secure the historic title.

“We’re a bunch of misfits. We’re just having a crack,” Manenti said. “We’re working hard for each other. The boys love each other and that was a big base of it.

“We worked hard and our big goal was to be consistent from day one. This award is a reflection of the consistency the boys have shown. It has been a pretty amazing run.”

Had Australia lost the third-place match, Fiji could have taken the season crown by winning the LA final.

South Africa, which failed to reach the knockout rounds in LA, would have won the crown if Fiji and the Aussies had both lost.

Fiji had to beat Australia in the semis to keep alive their season title hopes and did so while New Zealand edged Samoa 28-26 in the other semi-final.

Argentina’s hopes to claim the season crown ended when Samoa beat the South Americans 24-19 in extra time in the quarter-finals.

In other quarter-finals, Fiji ripped the United States 28-12 and New Zealand defeated Ireland 29-12.