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Levi stars as Aussie women stun NZ to reach gold game, men dig deep to set up semi clash


Australia’s women’s sevens team overcame a surprise loss against Fiji to beat favourites New Zealand in their Commonwealth Games semifinal and reach a gold medal playoff.

The Aussie men, meanwhile, downed Samoa in their quarterfinal to keep the nation’s chances of a double rugby gold n course.

The Kiwis beat Australia in the final four years ago but Maddison Levi was brilliant again, scoring her second hat-trick of the tournament as the Australians came from12-5 behind at halftime to win 19-12.

The win means Australia will face off against Fiji in the final.

In the men’s comp Australia advanced to a semi against South Africa with a gutsy 7-0 defeat of Samoa, missing injury star Samu Kerevi and down to six men at the finish, winning through Matt Gonzalez’s second half try.

Kerevi, who chose the Commonwealth Games over the Wallabies’ tour of Argentina, hurt his knee in a win over Kenya earlier on Saturday.

He will be needed for the Wallabies Rugby Championship Tests in coming weeks but Manenti said there was a chance he will feature on finals day.

“He wasn’t right to play tonight, we’ll wait and see how he is tomorrow but we’ll be cautious with him,” the coach said.

“He’s got bigger fish to fry and I haven’t turned on my phone (to check if the Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has called), but we’ll see how he backs up.”

As predicted, it has been a wild ride for the Aussies in both tournaments.

Funny things happen in sevens rugby. Odd things. Weird things. Ha-ha funny things.

Things that don’t happen often happen.

Consider the crucial, final fixture of Pool D of the men’s competition when Australia took on Kenya after escaping with a 12-all draw against Uganda – yes, Uganda – the day before.

For as Mr Burns would ponder: Uganda, eh? I’m half-ashamed to not know they were in the Commonwealth much less had a rugby sevens team capable of needing a 30-metre penalty goal to beat Australia in Pool D of the Commonwealth Games.

But there you go: with Dietrich Roache and Maurice Longbottom in the bin for Australia, Philip Wokorach elected to take a long range drop goal, and missed, and Australia escaped the greatest upset in Commonwealth Games rugby sevens history.

Into the match against against Kenya – which I’m half-ashamed to find out today shares a border and the bank of Lake Victoria with Uganda – and the Kenyans trotted out a player, forward Willie Ambaka, who played in a thick set of ski goggles.

Mark Nawaqanitawase was yellow-carded in the second minute before Kenyan wide-body Alvin “The Buffalo” Otieno scored, and Kenya went to half-time up 5-0.

Australia had a lineout move, effectively pass it long over the back to Kerevi. The Test man looked certain to score but was dragged down and injured, leaving the Aussies with five players after Nathan Lawson had been yellow carded. The field is hard enough to defend with seven.

Edmund Anya of Team Kenya is tackled by Dietrich Roache of Team Australia.

Edmund Anya of Team Kenya is tackled by Dietrich Roache of Team Australia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/2022 Getty Images)

Corey Toole was gang-tackled by four Kenyans who held him up in the air, and slowly mugged and dragged him over the sideline, his feet dangling off the ground, his teammates allowing this to go on as time clicked down with Lawson off the field.

That does not happen often.

A fine and bullocking bit of skill by Australia captain Nick Malouf led to a fine try by Toole to square it up.

Roache landed the conversion from out wide, a thing that doesn’t happen often, either. And it was Australia by two in a tight one.

Seconds ticked down. Kenya won a penalty. Siren went for full-time. They lost 40 metres in attack as Australia tacked with gusto. Kenya won another penalty. They went further backwards again, trying to find a hole, space, something, anything.

But Australia kept attacking with defence, driving hard and low before winning their own penalty, kicking it out and killing it dead.

On the Friday, Australia’s women despatched South Africa 38-0 and Scotland 50-0 before taking on a committed, physical and fast Fijiana, who ran out deserved 19-12 victors.

The Australians tried hard, threw the ball end to end and ran with alacrity. But they were pushed off the ball at the breakdown by a team that seemed to be just that little bit more aggressive, committed and offside.

Fiji also scored three fine tries to Rusila Nagasau, Sesenieli Donu and the long-striding and impressive Raijieli Daveua to lead 19-0 before Australia staged a fightback with tries to Maddison Levi and Demi Hayes.

But it was too little too late.

Fiji were the better team and have avoided New Zealand in the semi-final, instead taking on Canada who were second in their pool after losing 45-7 to New Zealand.





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