Hong Kong 7s quarter-final line-up confirmed
March 28, 2009
South Africa's Robert Ebersohn takes a tumble during his side's clash with Uruguay on Day Two in Hong Kong © Getty Images
The quarter-finalists for this year's Hong Kong 7s have been decided after another intense day of action in the latest event on the IRB Sevens Series circuit.
Australia and Fiji have qualified as the two best runners-up alongside pool winners South Africa, England, New Zealand, Argentina, Samoa and Kenya.
At the midway stage in the season South Africa and England lie in joint-top position on 60 points but with 30 on offer to the Cup winners in Hong Kong, the 24-team event could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the Series.
South Africa twice battled from behind to beat France in the Pool A decider and qualify for the last eight where they will play Australia. Julien Patey put the French ahead in both halves but each time the Boks drew level through Robert Ebersohn and Vuyo Zangqa, before Ryno Benjamin and Zangqa put the tie beyond doubt.
Earlier captain Mzwandile Stick, Zangqa and Mpho Mbiyozo all scored twice as joint-Series leaders South Africa ran in nine unanswered tries to beat Uruguay 53-0. Robert Ebersohn, Kyle Brown and Neil Powell also registered tries for Paul Treu's men.
Joint-Series leaders England sprinted to a 26-0 half time lead against World Champions Wales and then held on in the face of a fine fightback to take the Pool B tie 26-19 and set up a quarter-final clash with Fiji. Ollie Phillips, Kevin Barrett, Chris Cracknell and Isoa Damu all crossed for tries in the first half but England then had to defend with their lives as Arron Bramwell, Jimmy Norris and Ifan Evans pulled three back for the Welsh.
Earlier Rob Vickerman scored a hat trick as the English recorded a 50-0 win against Japan. Tom Varndell (2), Isoa Damu (2) and Ben Jones also touched down in a one-sided match.
In Pool C, Zar Lawrence scored two tries to inspire his team mates to an emotionally-charged 17-5 win in the pool decider against great rivals Australia, who also qualified for the Cup quarter finals as the second best runners-up. Australia scored first through Domonic Shipperley but Victor Vito struck to level at 5-5 at the break and Lawrence twice proved the difference in the second half to see the Kiwis home.
An extra poignancy and motivation will have been felt by all the New Zealanders in support of Lawrence, whose brother Wiremu tragically died in a car accident overnight. Lawrence also played a typically whole-hearted role in setting up a number of tries in their 52-0 win against Zimbabwe, in which Tim Mikkelson, Victor Vito, Ben Souness and Julian Savea all scored two tries. The New Zealand vice captain is to stay with the team here, return to New Zealand for his brother's funeral and rejoin the squad to compete in Adelaide next weekend.
Rugby World Cup Sevens finalists Argentina held on in the face of a fine Portuguese comeback to win 22-14 and proceed unbeaten to the Cup quarter finals as winners of Pool D. Martin Miguel Nunez Lasalle scored two tries and Hernan Olivari one to put the Pumas 15-0 up at the break but Joao Mirra and Frederico Oliveira pulled Portugal back to within a point, before Lucio Lopez Fleming crossed late on.
Earlier Benjamin Urdapilleta scored an injury time try to clinch a 22-17 victory for Argentina against Tonga in one of the matches of the tournament. Tonga hit back late on through Sosaia Palei and Peasipa Moimoi scored a tricky conversion to level the scores, but Martin Bustos Moyano's jinking run set up the winner for the Pumas.
Six-man Samoa held on in the dying moments under huge pressure from island rivals Fiji to draw 12-12 and top Pool E on points difference. The Samoans led 12-7 at the break after Jerry Meafou and Uale Mai scored either side of Pio Tuwai's try, but Vereniki Goneva pulled the scores level in the second half and Meafou's sin-binning forced Samoa to hold on for two minutes a man down. Fiji also qualify for the Cup quarter finals as best runners-up after pool play.
Samoa kick-started their progress on day two in emphatic fashion, beating Chinese Taipei 50-0. Timoteo Iosua scored a hat trick of tries, Rupena Levasa and Alafoti Fa'osiliva each grabbed a brace and Afioa'e Maiava rounded off the half century.
Fiji overcame Canada 26-17 in one of the matches of the tournament so far. The Fijians led 14-12 at the break after Phil Mack and DTH van der Merwe cancelled out tries by Seremaia Burotu and Pio Tuwai. Vereniki Gonewa put the islanders further ahead but van der Merwe scored again to close the gap to four points before Tuwai's second put the game beyond doubt and set up a decider between the two island giants.
Kenya beat the USA 19-12 to top Pool F and set up a quarter-final clash with Fiji. Benjamin Ayimba's side out-scored the Americans three tries to two, Collins Injera, Benedict Nyambu and Sidney Ashioya each touching down to better Mark Bokhoven's brace for the Eagles. The two sides had both won their first matches on day two, the Eagles hardly convincing in seeing off the West Indies, scoring three tries by Bokhoven, Hawkins and Palamo to the Windies' one from Joshua Clark.
Kenya were far more sure-footed against Scotland. They led 17-0 at the break after two tries by Collins Injera a one by Innocent Simiyu and Lavin Asego and Sidney Ashioya put the result beyond doubt before Scott Riddell crossed for a late consolation. The Scots did win their final pool game, though, against Joe Whipple's much-improved West Indies side 19-17.
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