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Gulf happy despite 19-0 defeat

Steve Cooper led his Arabian Gulf side against Tonga yesterday. (SUPPLIED)

By John McAuley

Mike Lunjevich, the Arabian Gulf coach, was pleased with his debutants despite a demoralising first match defeat to Tonga at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

The home side, competing in their first world cup, were beaten 19-0 in front of an expectant crowd. But Lunjevich was full of praise for his side.

"I'm very proud of the way my guys played," he said. "I think we executed our gameplan very well and if the ball had bounced another way, it would've been a very different game. We created a few opportunities, but missed a few as well."

The Gulf dominated the opening exchanges, pinning the Polynesian side back until Viliami Ma'afu led his team's first attack, touching down in the corner after four minutes.

The Tongans added another try, together with a conversion, to go into half-time 12 points to the good. A further seven has added to their tally, leaving Lunjevich to switch concentration to this afternoon's Pool A matches against the formidable New Zealanders and then Italy.

"We can't dwell on it too much," he said. "We've got another game against New Zealand so we have to focus on that. We didn't play the percentages [against Tonga] when we were on top of the tie; we tried a little flick pass or one over the top when we should have stuck to the basics.

"Against New Zealand we're just going out there to measure how much we've improved," added Lunjevich. "We're not here to make up the numbers. New Zealand are a team like anyone else, they've got two arms and two legs and if you tackle them low and hard they'll go down."