Scotland 7s unbeaten at Murrayfield
May 29, 2010
Scotland's Ben Cairns touches down against the United States © Getty Images
Title contenders New Zealand and hosts Scotland were the only two sides to enjoy 100% records on day one at the Edinburgh 7s.
World Series leaders Samoa opened up with two strong wins but were then comprehensively beaten by Argentina. While the islanders still topped their pool on points difference, it remains to be seen whether their confidence will have suffered entering the final sprint finish for the World Series title, while their closest rivals New Zealand look to have hit some ominous form.
On day two at Murrayfield all eyes will be on the crucial battle between New Zealand and Samoa for the 11th IRB Sevens World Series title. New Zealand have won eight of the 10 World Series so far but began the final event seven points adrift of Samoa. If the Samoans reach the Cup final on day two they are guaranteed their first World Series title. If, however, they slip up New Zealand can still clinch the Series, should they go on and win the Cup title in Edinburgh.
In Pool A, series leaders Samoa started with a superb 42-5 win against Kenya and followed up with a battling win against improved France, but then hit the self-detruct button against Argentina. The islanders still topped the group on points difference from Argentina, whose 31-10 win also relegated France to the Bowl, but another nine Puma points against them would have sent them tumbling out of the Cup and into the Bowl. France started with a strong win against Argentina and followed defeat against Samoa with an impressive performance to beat Kenya by four tries to one. They will count themselves as deperately unlucky to miss out on the Cup quarters.
In Pool B, New Zealand opened up with a 49-5 win against Russia and followed up with an even more comfortable victory against Italy, Tim Mikkelson grabbing a hat trick and Zar Lawrence crossing for his 100th career try. In the pool decider Gordon Tietjens' side were made to work hard by the injury-hit Boks - Frankie Horne and Mpho Mbiyozo are both out - but came through 24-17, captain DJ Forbes with two tries.
Earlier, South Africa took a while to break down Italy before eventually running out convincing winners, Ryno Benjamin adding three tries to his season tally. The Boks were then made work by Russia but won 19-7. Russia did finish with a win, though, against Italy.
In Pool C, last weekend's London champions Australia proved once again that they have grown immeasurably in resolve and composure in coming back from 21-0 down against England to draw 21-21 with James Stannard's final kick of the match. Held to 0-0 at half time against Canada, the Australians ran out 14-0 winners and didn't have it all their own way against Portugal, but came through to win 35-21, Clinton Sills scoring twice, before the nail-biter against England that helped them top the group.
England started with a hard-fought 17-5 win against Portugal but came unstuck against Canada, losing to Justin Mensah-Coker's winning try at the death after captain Phil Mack had again provided the spark for the Cannucks. The Canadians could not follow up against Portugal, though, and lost 24-14, a result that effectively helped England through to the last eight in the Cup.
In Pool D, Scotland produced a brilliant display to thrill the 11,000-strong crowd, winning all of their pool games to reach the Cup quarter finals for the first time this season. The Scots started in the best manner possible by running out 31-14 winners against Fiji and then they held their composure to come from behind against the USA and win 33-12, Andrew Turnbull with two tries. To the delight of the crowd, they then outclassed Wales in the final match of the day.
Currently joint-third in the Series alongside Australia, defending Edinburgh champions Fiji recovered from their opening defeat against the Scots to beat Wales 26-7 and then revived their chances of reaching the last eight with victory against USA. Earlier Wales had to come from two scores down to beat the USA.
Cup quarter finals:
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September