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Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens sees heated competitions in quarter-finals of round 2

posted on 06/12/2014: 2118 views



Defending men's Dubai-leg champions Fiji and HSBC Sevens World Series holders New Zealand eased into the Cup Quarter-Finals of Round 2, while Scotland produced a stunning upset during an enthralling day's play in front of over 44,000 people at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on Friday.

In the opening game of the men's tournament, last season's overall runners-up South Africa thumped last year's Bowl runners-up Portugal 36-0 in their Pool D encounter.

South Africa then beat Canada 24-12, before beating 2013 Plate runners-up Wales 12-5 to win their Pool. Satisfied with his team's efforts on Day 1, Powell said: "It's getting tougher every year – all the teams are getting more and more professional. Obviously we'd like to go one better than last year – we come into tournaments not just to compete in them – we always want to win the trophy, always. There are some good, tough, physical sides coming up against us, so we need to be fit and ready for them. The guys are in great shape, they're well-conditioned, and hopefully we can keep it up over the next two or three games." Fiji began by thumping 2013 Shield champions France 54-7 in their Pool A clash. The worst defeat France had suffered at the hands of the Fijians previously was their 7-47 loss in New Zealand in 2007. Fiji finished third in the overall standings last season, but are aiming for nothing less than the trophy this time around. They went on to beat Dubai debutantes Brazil 31-5 and round off their engagements with a 33-21 win over 2013 Plate champions Argentina.

Speaking after the end of their successful preliminary round fixtures, Fiji Coach Ben Ryan said: "No, we're not feeling invincible, I've been around on the circuit for way too long to think or say anything like that. We've started well, and that's always important, since it just keeps the guys really confident ahead of the even tougher battles that are anticipated. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is going to be much tougher than it was for us last year. Just looking at some of the other sides progressing that have looked good – South Africa and New Zealand, especially – I think these are some really fit and powerful teams.

The first Pool B game saw the first major upset of the tournament, as Scotland, who had only beaten Round 1 finalists Samoa four times in 32 previous meetings, came from behind to win 21-14. The Samoans were leading 14-0 after the first three minutes thanks to tries from Tom Losefo and Falemiga Selesele, which were both converted by Lolo Lui. However, tries from James Johnstone, Mark Robertson and Scott Wight, which were converted by Colin Gregor in the 6th, 7th and 8th minutes, saw the momentum shifting rapidly and decisively in favour of the Scots.

Stunned by that defeat, Samoa Assistant Coach Galumalemana Rudolf Moors said: "We just made too many mistakes. In the first half, we focused on attack. But we just didn't use the right wing at the right time. This just shows how tough the tournament is, for everybody – there are no easy matches at any point." Moors' words would prophetic later, as the Samoans briefly revived their fortunes with a 38-12 win over Japan before being hammered 41-0 by New Zealand – a result that consigned them to third place in Pool B and ended their chances of lifting the Cup.

Earlier, HSBC Sevens World Series heavyweights New Zealand, who have won 12 of the 15 overall titles so far, hardly broke a sweat as they romped to a 36-0 win over Pool B rivals Japan in their opening match.

Speaking after that match, New Zealand Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said: "We were sketchy at times but also accurate at other times. This is the first time we've competed together in a few weeks, so it was a good start." New Zealand then brought Scotland crashing back to earth with a 43-0 drubbing that extended their World Series winning streak against them to 29-0, before dismantling Samoa.

Asked about a potentially mouth-watering final against Fiji on Saturday, Tietjens said at the end of the preliminary stage: "We're not worrying about Fiji at the moment, but if it does come down to facing them, we'll have to set up some special tactics for them. They're the form team at the moment, no doubt about that. But our main aim is to stay alive in the Cup championship and then try and win the title here. I think it is the most entertaining tournament in recent times. Every team is improving, so there are just no easy games. We saw how Scotland beat Samoa, who got to the Gold Coast Final. Just look the USA-England match, I mean there are just no easy outings here. On Saturday, the crowds can expect to see some cracking performances from us, provided we're not affected by injuries or anything. We'll be coming out strong and looking to go all the way, make no mistake – so it will be entertaining to watch." From Pool C, fancied outfits Australia and England qualified as winners and runners-up, respectively. Australia, who finished a disappointing 7th at home in Round 1 at the Gold Coast, began their campaign with a 29-12 win over Kenya, before beating the USA 26-10. England, who were third at the Gold Coast, also had it easy in their first couple of outings, beating USA 19-10 and Kenya 38-0. That meant the final Pool game between England and Australia would present a simple equation to determine the winner and the runner-up, and it was Australia who held their nerve in that fixture, coming out 12-5 winners.

The final day's play in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens kicks off on Pitch 1 at 9.30am, with the final scheduled for 8.12 tomorrow night.

Cup Quarter-Final fixtures Fiji vs Wales (Pitch 1, 11:00 am) Australia vs Scotland (Pitch 1, 11:22 am) South Africa vs Argentina (Pitch 1, 11:44 am) New Zealand vs England (Pitch 1, 12:06 pm) Bowl Quarter-Final fixtures France vs Canada (Pitch 1, 09:30 am) USA vs Japan (Pitch 1, 09:52 am) Portugal vs Brazil (Pitch 1, 10:14 am) Samoa vs Kenya (Pitch 1, 10:36 am) – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395273467400.html

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