O'Connor praises unbelievable Stannard

O'Connor praises unbelievable Stannard

Winning Australian Sevens coach Michael O’Connor has revealed he was convinced his side were heading to defeat in the final of Sunday’s London Sevens. Cecil Afrika’s late break looked like it was going to prove the winning score for South Africa in an absorbing contest. But a match-saving tackle from Australian skipper James Stannard thwarted the Boks, with the Aussies holding on for the 19-14 win.

Winning Australian Sevens coach Michael O’Connor has revealed he was convinced his side were heading to defeat in the final of Sunday’s London Sevens.

Cecil Afrika’s late break looked like it was going to prove the winning score for South Africa in an absorbing contest. But a match-saving tackle from Australian skipper James Stannard thwarted the Boks, with the Aussies holding on for the 19-14 win.

“The game was see-sawing, then right on full time when had a 19-14 lead, one of the South Africans made a break and took off down the field and I was sure he was going to score,” O’Connor said.

“James Stannard made this unbelievable tackle, he chased him the length of the field, put an unbelievable tackle on him and sent him into touch.

“I thought James had no chance of getting him, I have no idea where he pulled that pace from. He’s got to be the player of the tournament.

Australia’s win was their first since 2002 in Brisbane and was made all the more impressive by the fact they were without the likes of Pat McCutcheon Kimami Sitauti, Robbie Coleman, and Liam Gill in London due to Super 14 and Australian Under-20 commitments.

“The boys are absolutely thrilled, I am incredibly proud of them. Only three of the boys have played here at Twickenham before, and we also lost Clinton Sills, (concussion) Bernard Foley (ankle) and Ed Jenkins (virus) before the final, but the guys just handled the pressure well and held their composure to pull off a great victory.”

Australia now move into third position in the IRB Sevens World Series log with just one tournament to play, this weekend in Edinburgh.

Captain James Stannard said he was ecstatic with his team’s undefeated performance at the London Sevens.
The skipper was also crowed as the highest-point scorer at the penultimate leg of the IRB Series with 67 points while teammate Clinton Sills announced his return to the circuit with nine tries.

“We have worked so hard as a group over the last year, everyone who has been a part of the side and it has paid off today,” Stannard said.

“Australia hasn’t won a Cup Final in over eight years and that’s something that we’ve been using as motivation.
“We won the Plate in Dubai and the next step up was getting that Cup. We have come close a couple of times with Samoa edging us out.

“Now we have to get back into our recovery, get over to Scotland and really do Australia proud again."

Samoa holds a seven point lead on the overall table and just need to make the Edinburgh final to seal an inaugural IRB Series win.