Sevens' FNC flavour
FORMER Far North Coast rugby union players Sam Croke and Alex Gibbon were part of the Australian sevens team that finished third at the Oceania Championship in Fiji at the weekend.
The pair combined for one of the tries of the tournament which Gibbon finished off with a massive fend to an opposition player on his way to the the tryline.
It was the first time Croke had played in the team and he did not look out of place at the two-day competition.
Australia lost to Fiji 19-7 in a semi-final before a comfortable 25-5 win over Papua New Guinea enabled them to finish third.
"I was really happy with that last performance,” coach Andy Friend said.
"We were better today than we were yesterday (Friday).
"With a new squad, you want to improve on every performance.
"I thought our defence against Fiji was a big improvement.
"However, we were not as clinical as we needed to be with the football.
"We are happy to be on the podium but wish it could have been higher.
"On the whole I thought we showed good character as a squad and it gives some good momentum.”
Croke is no stranger to the green and gold, having previously represented the Australian Under-20 team.
Gibbon has played in a number of overseas tournaments with the Oceania Cup his first competition back with the sevens team after an extended lay-off.
The Australian women's team continued its dominance with three wins on the final day, winning each game by more than 30 points and keeping the opposition scoreless.
The team featured new players who were not part of the gold medal-winning team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"We had different experience levels in the squad with the players who were in Rio and the players doing their rugby apprenticeships,” coach Tim Walsh said.
"Our debutants were outstanding. Emma Sykes, Hannah Southwell and Shanice Parker improved in every game.”
The Australian men's and women's squads will kick- start their HSBC Sevens World Series campaigns in Dubai on December 1.