Bench spark Corey Toole helped overcome the absence of injured Wallabies star Samu Kerevi as Australia shut out Samoa 7-0 to earn a Commonwealth Games semi-final shot.
Toole’s injection just before halftime almost set up a try but he wasn’t denied early in the second half, spinning in a tackle then flicking a pass for Matt Gonzalez to score the game’s only try at Coventry Arena.
They otherwise held out a quality Samoan attack to progress to the final four, where they will meet South Africa on Sunday night in a battle of the World Series’ current top two.
Toole earned a fulltime deal after starring in the World Series when plucked from club rugby.
“I was in Canberra, just playing club footy there and was lucky enough to get a call-up to go to Dubai, moved to Sydney and have been with the Sevens ever since,” he said.
“It would be unreal (to win gold); like a dream.”
Australia have scrapped to this point, drawing with Uganda on Friday then pipping Kenya 7-5 to top their pool.
But coach John Manenti, who has enjoyed historic success piloting them to second overall on the World Series standings since taking over this year, feels as if they’re building nicely.
“We fired a few more shots, did some good stuff and it was just that turnover, last pass didn’t go,” he said.
“They’re (Samoa) a serious side, don’t be duped into thinking they’re not.
“They whacked us and we kept coming at them and kept them to zero.
“This week our defence has kept us in the fight and our attack’s just starting (to come good).”
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.”