Hometown favourites Australia were already on their way to a win over the United States on Saturday night when Henry Palmer put the icing on the cake with a spectacular finish.
Playing in front of a vibrant crowd at Perth’s HBF Park, and with the party stand just ahead of him, Palmer remained in the field of play by a matter of inches to complete the score.
USA SVNS veteran Madison Hughes was coming across in defence which left the Australian with plenty of work to do. In the end, Palmer did just enough.
Palmer didn’t seem too sure as he stood up and turned around to face his teammates, but replays told a different story entirely.
What a finish!
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The 20-year-old’s right leg hovered above the sideline, and the other foot stayed inside the field of play as he jotted the ball down. The try was confirmed and the crowd went berserk.
“We practice it a lot but it never simulates what it can feel like in a game,” Palmer told reporters after Australia’s 31-7 win in the Cup quarter-finals.
“I didn’t feel like I scored it but I looked at the replay and obviously all the practice paid off.”
Australia, who had lost to the United States on day one in pool play, opened the scoring in the fifth minute as captain Nick Malouf ran in for the score.
Nathan Lawson crossed for a brace on either side of half-time which set the hosts up for a big win. But there’s no doubt what the highlight of the night was.
The party stand fell silent, if only for a moment, as the replay of Palmer’s try-scoring effort was shown on the big screen. Then they began to party even louder.
“When you’re out there, I didn’t realise it was a party zone,” Palmer said while holding Wally the mascot.
“It was almost in slow motion.
“Then when I saw it get confirmed I could hear the stadium erupt. It definitely felt pretty good.”
Ben Dowling scored Australia’s final try in the 13th minute, and Maurice Longbottom added three conversions as the men in gold ran away with a relentlessly dominant victory.
Palmer insisted the Aussies will go into the knockout clash as the “underdogs” but they actually beat Fiji in their last meeting at the Cape Town SVNS last month.
The Aussies will play without fear.
“It means a lot. We didn’t get it the first game,” Palmer mentioned when asked about winning a knockout game on home soil.
“(We) came out today to prove that we can go all the way.
“Fiji, one of the world leaders, and we’re gonna have to go in as underdogs,” he added.
“But as we showed in Cape Town, we can beat anyone on our day.”