World champions Fiji have won the season-opening Dubai Sevens with a 28-17 victory over England after earlier beating Australia by seven points in the quarter-finals.
Australia’s interim coach Scott Bowen admits his side aren’t where they should be eight months out from the Rio Olympics.
But he still believes they “stood up to be counted” on the way to finishing sixth on Saturday local time.
The Aussies went down to Fiji 19-12 in the quarter-final in a game Bowen lamented was “a lost opportunity”.
“We had a plan on how we wanted to play which worked well but we couldn’t execute at crucial times,” the coach said.
“Being the side they are Fiji capitalised on that.
“We’re not where we want to be, that’s for sure, but the world series is tough and brutal.
“Even though we need to be better in some areas, I thought we were tough and physical today and stood up to be counted.”
In the subsequent plate competition to determine fifth to eighth place, Australia beat Samoa 28-10 in the semi-final but then lost the final to South Africa in sudden death extra-time.
Australia held a deserved 14-point lead at half-time in the final thanks to tries from Sam Myers and then Ed Jenkins.
But Blitzbokke utility Kwagga Smith halved the deficit three minutes into the second half and then brought South Africa level after the full-time siren.
In sudden death extra-time 35-cap Springbok Francois Hougaard displayed some neat footwork in the first 45 seconds to break Australian hearts and secure a 19-14 win.
In the main cup grand final, Fiji scored all of their points in the first half after falling behind to an early Tom Bowen try for England.
Savenaca Rawaca, Jasa Veremalua, Jerry Tuwai and Isake Katonibau grabbed Fiji’s four tries for a 28-7 lead at the break.
England rallied with late second half tries through Phil Burgess and a second score for Bowen.
An in-form United States outfit beat an injury-ravaged New Zealand 31-12 for a second time this weekend to claim third overall.
The series moves on to Cape Town next week with Fiji remaining the team to beat ahead of the sport’s debut at the Olympics in Rio.