at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Hong Kong – Australia upset world sevens number ones South Africa in Hong Kong Saturday, as Fiji's march towards a hat-trick of titles appeared unstoppable and players battled through a sub-tropical rainstorm.
The clearly partisan 40,000 spectators at Hong Kong stadium roared the Aussies on to a heart-stopping 10-7 defeat of the mighty “Blitzbokke”. The victory saw Australia top Pool B with three wins and go through to Sunday's Cup quarter-finals.
“10-7 so very tight, but I thought we played well,” Australia coach Michael O'Connor said. “We always have a tough game against them and I am happy with that win... Now we're looking forward to Canada tomorrow.”
South Africa, who lead the Sevens World Series with 116 points and who are still seeking their maiden title in Hong Kong, will meet England in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
New Zealand, second in the Series with 114 points, also nearly faced an upset by the US, who were leading at the half 7-0 after a try by veteran Zack Test.
The Kiwis put an end to American dreams with two swift tries in the second half, however, and Ben Lam added a third for good measure as Gordon Tietjen's side won 17-7.
“We stuck with them for seven minutes and then we kind of got a little impatient, and when you get impatient against the All Blacks they're going to hurt you,” Test said.
The rainy conditions at Hong Kong Stadium Saturday were a challenge, New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens admitted Ä but added he was pleased with the result against the US.
“It's great for us because I tried some new young players and they acquitted themselves pretty well, so obviously happy,” Tietjens said.
Fiji's 43-5 dispatch of Kenya and rout of Sri Lanka Ä scoring a ruthless eight tries before the clock mercifully ran out at 56-0 Ä saw them emerge the undisputed victors of Pool A, but there was no chance of the Pacific islanders getting cocky.
“We started slow (against Sri Lanka),” captain Osea Kolinisau told AFP. “We don't want to start slow against other teams.”
He was cautious about Fiji's chances in the tournament, saying his team was taking it one game at a time. “We are looking to work on our mistakes... We treat every game as a final.”
Canada came close to breaking their four-year losing streak against England, holding them 7-7 at the half, but Simon Amor's side dug deep and survived by the skin of their teeth at 14-12, with both teams going through.
Wales snatched victory from the jaws of a defeat against Kenya in one of the most nail-biting finishes of the day, with a post-hooter try by Samuel Cross bringing the score to 10-5 for the Welsh.
“It was a great finish to the game,” Cross told AFP. “We've been a bit unlucky this year... so it was nice to finally have one go our way.”
The heavens opened as Scotland met the US for a Pool D match that left the players slipping and sliding under the downpour, with cracking thunder and mid-day skies so dark the floodlights had to be turned on.
The US trains in the desert, and Scotland trains in the rugged and rain-soaked terrain of the northern United Kingdom, so it was perhaps not surprising that Scotland took the game 15-10.
The storm saw play briefly suspended, giving a would-be streaker time to rush on to the empty field and score his own try to a roar of approval from the raucous South Stand – although security caught him in time to preserve most of his modesty.
Hosts Hong Kong were cheered through to the qualifying round semi-finals along with Japan, Italy and Russia, where the four teams will battle for a place on the Series next year. – Sapa-AFP