Australian men earn sevens final berth with tough new mentality

James Stannard attributes a better performance from Australia's men at this year's Sydney Sevens to a shift in mentality where players put their foot down and said to themselves: "F--- it, we want it".

After finishing fourth at last year's tournament in Sydney, Australia surpassed that result by thumping Argentina 28-0 to set up a clash with South Africa in the final.

Australia have a habit of over-performing in Sydney. At the inaugural event in 2016, they reached the final before being bundled out at the last hurdle by New Zealand.

It is the first final the Australians have made in a World Series leg since the Las Vegas tournament in March 2016.

The squad will get a massive confidence boost out of their performance ahead of the Commonwealth Games in April and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in July.

Stannard, who is Australia's most capped sevens player of all time, said the team possessed far more belief than before and needed to trust their ability more than anything.

"We just had enough of coming second or losing," Stannard said. "There's a stage where you've got to flick it and go f--- it, we want it. Excuse my French.

"It's just the belief that we can do it. In previous tournaments I think we wanted to go out and win but I don't think we believed we could do it. The last prep we've really trained hard and put ourselves past that pain barrier. We're prepared for anything out there now."

Stannard said his team took inspiration from Australia's women, who chalked up a maiden Sydney Sevens title with a 31-0 annihilation of New Zealand in the final.

"We went and watched them in that final," Stannard said. "They didn't have a point scored against them the whole tournament and they've really built a great culture within their crew and they're playing some good footy.

"We've got to step up to the plate a bit and show them up."

Skipper Lewis Holland and youngster Ben O' Donnell scored two tries apiece against Argentina in a ruthless display that we have not always seen from the men in other cities.

Holland continued his excellent tournament with an early try to get the home side on the front foot.

Despite a few tricky moments, Australia extended their lead to 14 points thanks to an O'Donnell five-pointer in which he sprinted down the left touchline.

Argentina had a second player shown a yellow card in the first half and Holland made the South American nation pay by chalking up his fifth try of the week.

In the previous game between South Africa and the USA, the men in green showed why they took out last year's Sydney Sevens by putting on a scintillating performance.

The USA might boast the speedsters of Perry Bake and Carlin Isles but the pair rarely got their hands on the ball as South Africa cruised to yet another Cup final with a 35-7 victory.

Earlier, Australian youngster Maurice Longbottom scored a sensational try with his first touch in the quarter-finals against New Zealand.

Australia won that match 24-12 over their trans-Tasman rivals to set up a semi-final against Argentina.

New Zealand got an early upper hand, scoring just 90 seconds into the match thanks to a clever kick and chase from Vilimoni Koroi down the right wing.

Longbottom came onto the field with the scores level and the 22-year-old - with his first touch - lit up Allianz Stadium with a sensational run to score. A lightning quick left-foot step helped him create space and his pace was too much for New Zealand's defenders.

"I just wanted to run," Longbottom said. "I was just so excited. I got the space ... and just took off. It was good to get the first try."

This story Australian men earn sevens final berth with tough new mentality first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.