The quest for a tournament win goes on for a frustrated Australia after finishing fourth at the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Thunderbolts came into the iconic event with high hopes having been pipped at the post in two finals in the past two months but they failed to come to grips with a rampant Fiji in the semi-finals.
Fiji – who went on to outclass New Zealand 21-7 in Sunday’s final – were in sizzling form in a 34-5 flogging of Australia and left coach Andy Friend scratching his head over his ultimate goal of winning gold at the Rio Olympics in four months.
Australia couldn’t handle Fiji’s frenetic pace and clinical finishing and the match was all but over at halftime with the score 22-0.
Australia were subsequently beaten 14-12 by South Africa in the bronze-medal match to complete their fourth consecutive top-four tournament finish without taking home any silverware.
“Yeah it’s very frustrating,” Friend told AAP.
“You don’t want to be sitting second, third or fourth; we want to be winning things. That’s what we’re about. No one is happy with that.”
The loss of playmaker Lewis Holland to a foot injury on Saturday was critical, meaning the ARU will likely increase their efforts in trying to convince French club Toulon to release Quade Cooper for at least one of the next three tournaments in Singapore, Paris and London.
Friend was still upbeat about Australia’s Olympic campaign, with John Porch’s try-scoring form among the positives as well as a gritty defensive display to defeat England in the quarter-finals 14-5.
“As everyone does, we want to be gold medallist in Rio,” said Friend.
“So this is a great litmus test for that – can you really handle the pressure when it really matters. Today we learnt a few lessons.”
Fiji, who were seconds from being beaten by Kenya in the quarter-finals before snatching victory with a try after the siren, were brilliant in the decider as Semi Kunatani provided the spark.
The victory keeps them on top of the world series standings.
Australia stay fourth on the table with the next stop in Singapore starting next weekend.