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Australia clings to top four spot in World Series with plate victory

SIX down and another three tournaments to go in the HSBC Sevens World Series and the Aussies are clinging on to an all-important spot in the Top Four.
While the fans recover from another amazing Hong Kong Sevens, the teams are counting the cost of some physical and at times scintillating rugby ahead of the next leg in Tokyo this weekend.
Australia showed that with a little luck they can be a force in Tokyo. After convincing wins over Scotland and Portugal, they fought hard before going down 14-5 to New Zealand in the final Pool game.
That meant a clash with top of the table South Africa in the Cup Quarter Final and after leading 5-0 with two minutes to go, the Blitzbokke hit back with a converted try to seal the victory.
Nicholas Malouf of Australia in action.
Nicholas Malouf of Australia in action. Source: Getty Images
Australia then contested the Plate competition and came up against fifth placed England in the semi-finals. This was a crucial game in the ‘Race To Rio’.
Fourth placed Australia was just three points in front of the English on the table, so both sides couldn’t afford to lose. In the end Australia held on for a narrow victory and went on the beat the USA in the Plate Final, extending the margin to six points over England on the points table.
After the next three events in Tokyo, Glasgow and London, the top four on the World Series ladder will automatically qualify for the Rio Olympics along with host nation Brazil. The others will have to qualify through regional tournaments or a repechage.
Fiji were crowned Hong Kong champions for the 15th time when they beat New Zealand in the Cup Final, but South Africa retained top spot on the standings after their win over Samoa in the playoff for third.
Cameron Clark of Australia makes a break.
Cameron Clark of Australia makes a run. Source: Getty Images
This weekend Australia is in Pool B again, alongside New Zealand, Scotland and Portugal, the same grouping as Hong Kong. Once again they could face South Africa in the quarter final.
Meanwhile England looks to have a better draw on paper as they are grouped with Fiji, Wales and Hong Kong. If they finish second in the Pool as expected, they’re likely to play Samoa or Argentina in quarters.
Australia coach Geraint John will stick with the majority of the side that played over the weekend. It was great to see try scoring machine Shannon Walker back on the circuit after a long lay-off through injury. He’ll be even better with a tournament under his belt.
Aussie Captain Ed Jenkins was a worthy inclusion in the Hong Kong Dream Team after some impressive performances.
Both days of this weekend’s Japan Sevens will be shown Live on Fox Sports.
TOKYO SEVENS SCHEDULE:
Saturday: LIVE on FOX SPORTS 506HD from 11.50am to 10.30pm EDT
Sunday: LIVE on Fox Sports 502HD from 10.45am to 7.45pm EST
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