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Former Australia international Stephen Larkham says qualifying for today’s International Veterans final and getting to play in front of 45,000 fans is all his team wanted from their trip to Dubai.

The all-star J9 Legends, who are representing ex-South Africa scrum-half Joost Van der Westhuizen’s J9 Foundation, lined up with former All Black fly-half Carlos Spencer, Welsh back row forward Colin Charvis and arguably the most iconic Sevens player of all time, Waisale Serevi, and they scored three second-half tries to beat Joining Jack 19-0 in Friday’s semi-final.

Joining Jack – a charity team set up to raise funds and awareness for Duchenne muscular dystrophy – had former England internationals Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson in their ranks, and had beaten the J9 team 14-7 in Friday’s group game.

But the Legends were able to regroup in time for the knockout rounds and had too much for Farrell and the hosts of ex-rugby league internationals who lined up alongside him.

Larkham, who scored the second try, said at the final whistle: “It was a very good win – they obviously beat us in the group, but they got a few injuries, you can see them limping off, but we took full advantage of it. We’re very happy because we’re playing in front of 45,000 people next.

“That atmosphere is the real benefit of winning that one today – it’s not necessarily getting to the final for us. Playing in front of all those people – it will be unbelievable.

“That being said, I think we can win tomorrow, but it’s going to be very difficult.”

The 39-year-old explained how they were able to change things around after their loss to the same opposition on Friday.

“We had a couple of injuries in our squad and we were lucky enough to be able to pull some guys out of the other pools."

Two Fijians came in and played so well for us. Serevie, who scored the third try of the game, brought back his glory days of old as he controlled possession for the J9 Legends and constantly put Joining Jack on the back foot.

The 45-year-old said: “It’s good to score a try again, especially playing in the Veterans tournament.

“I still keep myself fit, and I am always training and looking after myself.

“I enjoy it... running around with great players that we saw on television – guys like Larkham, Spencer and James Dalton (ex-South Africa hooker).

“We lost yesterday to them but we learned a lot of things after the group game and we applied them on that game and in the end we won.”

Meanwhile, Farrell was disappointed that his team’s progress was halted just before the final, but he put it down to a lack of fitness and awareness.

The 38-year-old said: “We had a few injured boys and we had a lot of lads who hadn’t played for a while and this was our fifth game into the tournament.

“We left ourselves with a little bit too much to do and obviously J9 got a few fresh boys in somehow, and they played a bit of rugby union which we struggled with, but fair play to them.”

The Xodus Steelers beat the CNCF Legends 7-0 in the other semi-final and will take on the J9 Legends in the main stadium at 15.25 today.

RESULTS AND FIXTURES

Quarter-finals
Xodus Steelers 26-0 Crusaders
Barla Bulldogs 0-7 Joining Jack
CNCF Legends 17-0 Stefans BHF
Brussels Barbarians 0-35 J9 Legends

Semi-finals
Xodus Steelers 7-0 CNCF Legends 
Joining Jack 0-17 J9 Legends 

Today, final 15:25
Xodus Steelers v J9 Legends (on pitch 1)

 

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