South Africa out of Hong Kong Sevens

2013-03-23 16:48

Hong Kong – World Series leaders New Zealand dominated on the second day of the Hong Kong Sevens, easing into the quarterfinals alongside defending champions Fiji.

But there was disappointment for challengers South Africa in the sixth and most high-profile tournament of the nine-leg HSBC Sevens World Series, as they failed to make it past the group stages.

Second in the overall standings, between New Zealand and Samoa, South Africa came into the tournament off a win in Las Vegas, but lost 21-12 to Australia after being trounced 21-0 by Argentina yesterday.

They came back with a 31-0 win over Wales but it was too late. Their exit was another example of the unpredictable nature of the season, which has seen a different team win each of the five previous legs.

“This is not what we envisaged when we came to this tournament but this is the game. It is about margins and if you don’t take your opportunities you can lose 21-0 like we did last night,” South Africa coach Paul Treu told AFP.

“The only way you’re going to learn is the hard way.”

New Zealand strode past a strong Kenyan side to win 31-7, before beating the USA 24-12, winning all three of their pool matches.

“I’m very pleased because the challenge is we’ve been six weeks without a tournament so you have to get back into it on day one and two,” said New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens. “We’ve got back up pretty quickly which is pleasing and rounded it off with three good wins.”

Undefeated Fiji join them in Sunday’s quarter-finals after holding off Spain 22-12 and beating Canada 26-5 in their final match.

“We feel confident – over the last two days we’ve been doing really well. We treat each game as a final, so we’re giving it our all,” Fiji captain Nemani Nagusa told AFP.

Wales reached the quarter finals after a hard-fought 19-14 win over Argentina and a dogged Portugal claimed the scalp of the day, beating Samoa 14-10.

In the same group, England fell to old rivals Scotland 14-5, with both teams failing to make it to the final stages – Samoa went through on points after a 12-12 draw with the Scots.

In Sunday’s quarter-finals Wales will face Canada, Portugal play Kenya, Fiji meet Australia and New Zealand take on Samoa.

On a packed and buoyant day at the 40 000-seat Hong Kong Stadium the famous South Stand was full of partying fans soon after the gates opened.

Home team Hong Kong earned the biggest cheers as the crowd roared each time they put points on the board, although they didn’t manage to make it through to the Sunday stages.

During a brief break from the rugby in the middle of the day, US superstars The Beach Boys got the crowd on its feet with a half-hour set.

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