IRB Sevens World Series leaders South Africa went unbeaten with New Zealand and hosts England on day one of the Emirates Airline London Sevens, which produced twists and turns throughout.
The IRB Website reports that at the end of the first day’s play at Twickenham three of the four pools were decided by points difference with Scotland, France and Portugal progressing to the Cup quarter finals but Kenya, Argentina and Samoa all missing out.
Cup quarter finals
South Africa v France
New Zealand v Fiji
Scotland v Portugal
England v Australia
Scotland upset Fiji 12-7 and then overcame the USA to book their place in a first Cup quarter final this season, while Portugal and France both needed to wait for the result of nail-biting final matches with their destiny out of their hands.
South Africa remain poised to add the IRB Sevens World Series trophy to their silverware cabinet for the very first time.
After a fine season, Paul Treu’s side lies 28 points ahead of closest rivals England. Mathematically the Twickenham hosts can still catch them in the race for the title, although the Boks would have to slip up badly over the closing two tournaments, and England would probably need to win both.
The London event is the penultimate in the 2008/09 World Series, which reaches a climax next weekend at Murrayfield.
IRB Sevens World Series points
Cup winners – 20
Cup runners-up – 16
Losing Cup semi finalists (x2) – 12
Plate winners – 8
Plate runners-up – 6
Losing Cup quarter finalists & Plate semi finalists (x2) – 4
Bowl winners – 2
South Africa top Pool A
South Africa beat Australia 17-14 in a tight pool decider, Vuyo Zangqa crossing for the decisive try to ensure that the Boks’ overall title aspirations on track
Earlier South Africa started with two impressive wins, 29-5 against World Cup-winners Wales and then 70-0 against Germany. Renfred Dazel set them on their way against the Welsh and they led 12-5 at the break when Craig Hill cancelled out Ryno Benjamin’s try. Captain Mzwandile Stick scored a brace as they accelerated away in the second half, Gio Aplon also touching down. Against the Germans Zangqa scored a hat trick, Ryno Benjamin a brace and Dazel, Aplon, Chase Minnaar, Robert Ebersohn and Kyle Brown one each.
Newlook Australia also kicked their Twickenham campaign off with two wins, outclassing Germany 50-0 and then coming from behind to beat Wales 31-21. Willie Bishop scored a hat trick of tries and there were also scores for James Stannard, Will Brock, Shaun Foley, Clinton Sills and Francis Fainifo in their first match, before a real cracker against the Welsh. Ifan Evans and Craig Hill put Wales ahead and Patrick McCutcheon pulled on back before the half, before a purple patch after the break that produced three quick scores for the Aussies through James Stannard and Shaun Foley (2). Tal Selley pulled one back to make it 24-21 but Francis Fainifo’s score put the match beyond doubt.
Wales finished on a high, beating Germany 45-5, but will contest the Bowl on day two. Ifan Evans scored two tries against the Germans and there were further tries for Craig Hill, Will Harries, Tom Isaacs, James Merriman and Tal Selley. Germany’s first try of the tournament was scored by Benjamin Simm.
Pool B: England go unbeaten and send France through
England were made to work hard for their opening 20-14 victory against France, but then powered to a fine 61-0 win against Georgia. Kevin Barrett and Ollie Phillips both scored for the hosts early on against the French but Thomas Combezou’s try cut the lead to three points. Chris Cracknell and Ben Gollings both scored in the second half to stretch out to a 20-7 lead and Paul Albaladejo crossed for a late try.
Against Georgia Tom Biggs, Micky Young and powerful Uche Oduoza all grabbed braces in a nine-try win, Ben Gollings, James Rodwell and Rob Vickerman also crossing for scores.
In the pool decider Ben Ryan’s men had to show all of their mettle and captain Ollie Phillips inspired them to an impressive 31-14 win, which also denied Samoa a place in the Cup quarters by edging France ahead of them on points difference.
Earlier, the defending London champions Samoa had also proved far too strong for Georgia, powering to a 47-0 win, but needed a last-second converted try to draw with unlucky France 26-all. Mikaele Pesamino grabbed a hat trick against the Georgians and there were also tries for Uale Mai, Morgan Salesa, Levi Asifa’amatala and Kirisimasi Lesa, but France provided an altogether tougher challenge. Paul Dabrin’s two tries, and others for Paul Albaladejo and Thomas Combezou, gave France the lead against Alafoti Fa’osiliva’s brace and Reupena Levasa’s effort, before Levasa crossed again at the death allowing Lolo Lui to convert for the draw.
France’s late 57-7 win against Georgia gave them every chance of making the Cup quarter finals.
Pool C : Scots fly high and Fiji deny Kenya
Scotland produced the biggest upset so far at the Emirates Airline London Sevens, recovering from an early loss against Kenya to beat Hong Kong champions Fiji 12-7 and top their pool. The Scots followed up the surprise win with a more routine 40-0 win against USA to reach a first Cup quarter final this season in the World Series.
In an intriguing pool Fiji then had to beat Kenya by at least 14 points to make it through to the Cup quarters in their place, and did so with a fine 26-5 victory. At 12-5 with three minutes to play the Kenyans seemed well set, but Seremaia Burotu added to Vereniki Goneva’s two first half tries to make the lead 14, and Orisi Sareki sprinted clear on the hooter to seal victory.
For Scotland Scott Forrest opened the scoring against the Fijians but Emosi Vucago’s converted score edged Fiji ahead before Greig Laidlaw’s decisive try. Against USA, Andrew Turnbull scored a brace and Colin Gregor, John Houston, Scott Forrest and Ally Hogg one each to send the Scots through a week before their own event at Murrayfield.
Earlier, Kenya captain Humphrey Kayange had broken Scottish hearts in their opening game, scoring the winning try after the Africans came back from a 12-0 half time deficit. Michael Adamson and Colin Gregor each crossed in the first half but Kenya were a different proposition after the break, Kayange scoring tries either side of his brother Collins Injera, the leading try scorer in the Series this year. And the Kenyans took that fine form into their match against the USA, Sidney Ashioya and Collins Injera each scoring a brace and Victor Simiyu one in a 33-0 win.
The Fijians also started with a win, 26-10 against the Americans. Seremaia Burotu and Waqa Kotobalavu gave the islanders a 12-0 lead, but Mark Bokhoven hit back for the States. Pio Tuwai and Nasoni Roko then scored to put the game beyond doubt for Fiji and Tai Enosa crossed for a late USA consolation.
Pool D: New Zealand lend Portugal a hand
Zar Lawrence inspired New Zealand to a fine 38-0 win against the Pumas of Argentina to ensure that they top their group, Ben Souness’ final try also sending Portugal through to the Cup quarter finals on points difference, in Argentina’s place.
The New Zealanders had kicked off their London campaign with a superb six-try victory against Canada, and followed it with another impressive win 43-7 against Portugal. Solomon King set them on their way and Lote Raikabula and captain DJ Forbes also scored in the first half, and Tim Nanai-Williams, Julian Savea and Save Tokula added tries after the break in an initial 40-0 win. Against Portugal King and Savea both scored twice, while Save Tokula, Kurt Baker and Lote Raikabula added one apiece.
Argentina and Portugal started with a lung-busting 21-all draw, before the Pumas recovered to beat Canada 24-12. The Portuguese led against Argentina 14-7 at the break, Goncalo Foro scoring twice either side of Santiago Gomez Cora’s effort. Gabriel Ascarate pulled it level early in the second half and the prolific Gomez Cora edged them ahead before Antonio de Aguilar’s late try earned a deserved draw. Against Canada the Pumas had captain Santiago Gomez Cora to thank, his two tries taking him beyond 1,100 career points – the fourth highest all time.
The Portuguese finished their day’s play on a high, beating Canada 24-7 with Diogo Mateus scoring the 22,000th try in the 10 year history of the Series, and New Zealand’s late burst against Argentina did them the ultimate favour to send them through to the Cup.Tweet