Australia, South Africa, USA and Fiji remain unbeaten at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens as day two produced yet another day of thrilling sevens action in the Hong Kong heat.
With Madness entertaining the sold-out crowd at the break, madness also reigned on the pitch as Russia shocked Scotland, Wales drew with Fiji and the series qualifier tournament had fans on the edge of their seats.
Australia will be happy with their performance on Saturday as they followed up their day one win over Samoa with victories against South Korea and England to ensure their place in the quarter-finals against Argentina.
The other quarter-finals on Sunday will see Fiji play Canada, USA face England and a mouth watering encounter as South Africa take on New Zealand.
Elsewhere in the World Rugby series qualifier competition, Chile, Germany, Papua New Guinea and Spain progressed to the semi-finals on Sunday.
The day began with the announcement that the next Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, USA will take place from July 20-22, 2018.
Australia kicked off proceedings on day two with a comfortable 52-0 win over invitational team South Korea but it was their 12-10 winning performance against England in their final pool match of the day that sparked rapturous cheers in a packed out Hong Kong Stadium. Rookie of the year 2015-16 Henry Hutchison scored twice as Andy Friend’s outfit finished top of their pool for the first time since Dubai last December.
Despite their loss to Australia, England had already secured their place in the Cup quarter-finals with a 12-10 win over Samoa earlier in the day, with Gordon Tietjens’ side pushing them close.
Series leaders South Africa finished with a clean sweep of three wins from three in the pool stages, beating Kenya 35-10 on the morning of day one with a hat-trick from Werner Kok the highlight of the match. Damian McGrath’s Canada side proved a different level of competition though, keeping the score level at half-time with Justin Douglas’ try cancelling out Dylan Sage’s score to keep it 7-7 at the break. The familiar Blitzboks momentum shone through late in the second half though, with scores from Ruhan Nel, Cecil Afrika and Siviwe Soyizwapi sealing the win 26-7.
McGrath’s Canada side had beaten France 28-14 earlier in the day and beaten Kenya 17-14 on day one to make sure they will be in the business end of things come the third day in Hong Kong.
Fiji topped Pool C but were almost tripped up by a fierce performance from Wales in their first match on day two. Having lost to the Welsh in Sydney earlier in the series (which broke Wales’ 14-match losing streak against the Pacific islanders), Fiji were aware of the threat and Luke Morgan was on song scoring twice in the first half to give his side a 10-5 lead at half-time. Vatemo Ravouvou scored early in the second half to put Fiji ahead 12-10 after his conversion also landed, but Morgan tipped the game back in favour of Wales. A late try from Amenoni Nasilasila brought the scores level, making it a thrilling 17-17 scoreline.
Gareth Baber’s side faced a strong New Zealand outfit in their second pool match, a side who had beaten Japan 40-14 earlier in the day to qualify for the quarter-finals. Despite a barnstorming try from New Zealand debutant Joey Ravouvou, it was his namesake Vatemo who clinched the winning try for Fiji and put a 17-14 win on the board.
USA went unbeaten in Pool D, beating Scotland 19-14 early on day two thanks to a hat-trick from Perry Baker to secure their spot in the Cup quarter-finals. Mike Friday’s side produced a dominant performance against Argentina in their final pool match, with the returning Mike Teo showing his class from the recent Americas Rugby Championship by bagging two tries in his side’s five-try, 33-5 win.
Argentina had fortunately secured their Cup quarter-final place with a 17-12 comeback win over Russia earlier in the day. Russia’s Vladimir Ostroushko and Vitaly Zhivatov scored in the first half and combined with Dmitry Sukhin’s conversion made it 0-12 at half-time. However, Santiago Gomez Cora’s side bounced back quickly with Fernando Luna, German Schultz and Matias Ocsaduk all scoring to help make it 17-12 at full time.
Day two of the Hong Kong sevens finished with four thrilling quarter-finals as the eight teams battled out for a chance to be a core team on next year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. After pool play, Guyana, Tonga, Jamaica and Sri Lanka had been eliminated.
South American rivals Chile and Uruguay faced off in the first qualifier in a tense affair that saw two men in the bin. Chile scored first but Uruguay fired back to leave the teams level 7-7 at the midway point. But a try from Lucas Westcott stretched the gap and Francisco Neira – the man who just completed his business studies degree – put Chile in the business end of the qualification tournament, despite a consolation try for Uruguay. It finished 21-12 and Chile took their place in the semi on Sunday.
Their opposition was to come from the next quarter-final as Germany faced off against Hong Kong, who were, unsuprisingly, backed by a passionate local support. In what turned out to be a breathless affair, Germany’s Sebastian Fromm opened the scoring with a superb break after just two minutes. However the hosts grew into the game and Jamie Hood levelled the scoring in the dying minutes. The game was headed for extra time when Hong Kong chipped ahead only for the Germans to counter-attack, making space for Bastian Himmer who broke away to score and silence the home support. 14-7 it finished and Germany will face Chile in the first semi-final on Sunday.
It started badly for Uganda – a poor kick off resulted in a try for their opponents Papua New Guinea as AA Clements broke through the line. However the African side equalised with a try from the energetic Govle Ramathan and the momentum saw them cross the line right at the break – Solomon Okia rewarded for his hard work in attack to leave it 10-7. Gaino Kapana then scored with 3 minutes left to make it 14-10 to PNG and, despite a frantic finish, Papua New Guinea held on for the win.
The final match of the night saw Spain take on a plucky Namibian side. Spain, unbeaten so far in the tournament, went ahead in the first half with tries from Joan Losada, Pol Pla and Lucas Levy leaving it 21-0 at half time. Second half tries from Losada and Levy saw Spain take their place in the semi-final with a 33-0 win.