Ella singles out Pither after Sevens third
May 29, 2000

Coach Glen Ella has singled out New South Wales' Cameron Pither among a host of good performers after Australia finished third in the inaugural world rugby sevens championships.

World champions New Zealand were too strong for Australia at the world rugby sevens championship in Paris, relegating the Australians into third place with a convincing semi-final win.

Unbeaten in their group games, Australia conquered England 26-21 in their earlier quarter-final but were crushed by the might of the Kiwis in a conclusive 26-7 loss punctuated by a torrential downpour at the Charlety Stadium.

Ella said the result was a blow after a very tight game in which the scores were level early in the second half.

"It was very disappointing ... the game was very close," he said. "We were 7-7 going into the second half and a couple of bad refereeing decisions cost us a couple of tries."

Pither was Australia's only semi-final scorer, levelling the match early in the second half but tries by Tony Monaghan, Amasio Valence and captain Karl TeNana made put New Zealand out of reach.

New Zealand had beaten France in their quarter-final and only needed to reach the last two to secure the series after Fiji's surprise 35-21 quarter-final loss to Argentina but went on to annihilate South Africa 69-10 in the final to earn the inaugural world series crown.

They finished champions with 186 points, with Fiji second on 180 and Australia third on 118.

"We played well but we came up against New Zealand and reacted to the pressure they put on us," Ella said. "New Zealand was the best team on the day and I'm not taking that away from them.

"It still leaves us third but New Zealand looked set to win the series."

Ella named Pither as one of Australia's heroes of the series, with captain Jack Isaacs and brother Matt at halfback as Australia's other stand-out players along with Queensland's David Croft and ACT winger Brendan Williams.

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