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Hong Kong SVNS - Men, Day Two

LIVE UPDATES: We bring you all the men’s drama on Day Two in Hong Kong, Round Six of the SVNS World Series.

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HSBC SVNS series leaders Argentina lost twice on the opening day, while Los Angeles champions France beat Australia in the final minute to take the lead in a fiercely competitive Pool A.

Currently bottom of Pool B, Argentina will need to beat Great Britain in their final game to keep their hopes alive.

Meanwhile, a resurgent South Africa went two from two to go top of Pool C.

Follow all the Day Two action below!

Cup quarterfinals

USA 19 – 24 Ireland

A high-octane first half gave SVNS fans in attendance much to cheer, for supporters and neutrals, as the players managed four tries between them. Terry Kennedy opened the can of worms with a neatly worked try just two minutes into the affair, and Ireland held that lead relatively convincingly for a further two minutes before USA struck back with Williams. Ward and Cummings, for Ireland and USA respectively, both furthered their teams’ tally by opening up the opposition defences with some blistering runs. They went into the break at 12 a piece.

The second half was a rendition of the first, with Ireland securing a converted try, and USA responding two minutes later with the same. Both teams showed spirit and grit, refusing to give up a psychological advantage, feeling the momentum was with them. Both Kennedy and Williams secured their brace in the second half. After a further stalemate, a winner would be decided in overtime. For Ireland, the hero in green would be Terry Kennedy, who snagged a hatrick with the help of his team to salvage a win after a ruthless contest. A fine showing between to excellent sides.

France 24 – 10 Spain

France coming into this QF fixture as favourites, but Spain have been showing some decent form recently, despite only taking one win from the pool games. A side that’s shown they’re not afraid to fight back, regardless of the odds or game standings. A relatively sedate opening few minutes had the stadium buzz broken by French supporters’ cheers after Zeghdar put one down to give France the early lead. Spain responded with an unconverted try of their own, but continued hounding at the heels of France, displaying the grit and intention that got them to the QF.

The second half saw the Spanish take the lead a couple of minutes into play with another unconverted try. Less than ideal for them, but it was enough to put them ahead. The celebrations were short-lived, as France systematically dismantled Spain’s defence with three consecutive tries in swift succession. Spain was left reeling after the lapse in defensive judgement and attacking prowess from France. An exciting affair, with the scoreline not telling the full story.

South Africa 0 – 15 Australia

A tightly contested game with high expectations from both sets of fans. The opening few minutes showing some of South Africa’s shortfalls as they failed to read and match the movements of Australia. The Wallabies made it over the line in the first couple of minutes. Australia continued pressing the Blitzboks but didn’t find another try for the remainder of the half, but won a greater battle by keeping South Africa well away from their try line and going into the break with the 5-point lead.

The second half was played at the same pace, with both sides rushing to overthrow the other, but the forward movement remained quite limited. Australia remained the side with the edge, however, as South Africa never really looked like scoring. The boys in gold bagged a second try thanks to the magic of Longbottom with a neat finish. He converted his try and added another 3 from the spot shortly after to give them a 15-point lead. A controlled, suffocating win from Australia.

New Zealand 19 – 12 Fiji

An exciting contest expected from this fixture, and the first half delivered with an evenly matched contest taking us from one end of the pitch to the other. NZ drew first blood one minute into the game with Ware finding a way through a napping Fiji defence. After regathering themselves they pressured the NZ side at their 22 and pierced the veil twice in quick succession, putting them ahead with one converted try and one unconverted.

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Fiji kept control of the ball and held NZ back for much of the second half, stifling their chances at forward movement and aggressive expansion. They struggled to find the finishing edge they showed in the first half, but NZ wouldn’t be able to say the same as they snuck through along the flank shortly before the hooter, then once more with seconds to play. Fiji’s hard work went unrewarded as the win was stolen out from underneath their nose. A composed performance by NZ that allowed them to secure the comeback.

Ninth-place play-off

Great Britain 7 – 12 Samoa

An fierce opening few minutes as both sides hammered the other looking to dominate physically. Samoa arguably coming off a bit better in the exchange, but after five minutes GB were the ones who had something to show for their efforts, making it over the line underneath the sticks with a smartly put-together try, utilizing the width of the pitch. Samoa continued to batter the GB side, making good meters but not enough to be threatening. GB go went into the break with a lead, while also playing with a man down.

Abysmal start to the second half by GB as they kicked straight into touch. Samoa fail to capitalize on the territorial gift, but did well to keep GB at bay after conceding possession. The Samoans built slowly towards the GB try area but their patient approach had little success. Eventually a lucky break after some disorganized scrambling from both sides gave Samoa the chance they need and they took the opportunity with both hands. They missed the conversion, allowing GB to maintain the lead. It wasn’t for long, as their incessant ramming eventually broke the GB line and they went over for another to pull it away from GB after the hooter.

Argentina 21 – 0 Canada

Argentina put the Canadians on the backfoot early in the first half with some good pressure and explosive runs. Canada managed to hold them off and kept the flood gates closed. Argentina keep the waves coming, smashing into the red wall relentlessly. After the incessant pressure, Graziano popped into a gap created for him and put it down comfortably. The boys in red sealed the hole and continued to weather the Argentine storm. They entered the break trailing by 7 points.

A couple of minutes into the second half, Argentina broke the Canadian defence once more, with the finesse we’ve come to associate with them in the SVNS tournament. Canada fight valiantly to contest domineering postures of the Argentine side but unsuccessfully so, for the most part. The boys in blue and white break through one final time, to put Canada out of their misery and seal the game wit ha 21-point lead. Decent defending from Canada, but they were simply unable to match the Argentina attack.

Final pool matches

Samoa 7 – 26 South Africa

Samoa came into this fixture knowing they needed a win after taking an L against Ireland yesterday. They enjoyed some possession early into the game and looked threatening with some kicks and chases into space, but South Africa were the first to strike with Van Wyk. In addition to the first try, they also secured the first yellow card for Day 2 as Oosthuizen got sent to the bin for a high tackle. Samoa failed to utilize the man advantage, instead they ended up conceding another after some nifty work by Specman freed Nortje to go in uncontested. Samoa struggled to get out of their half as Blitzboks raced across the field to close both flanks down. The incessant defensive pressure allowed the South Africans to pierce the Samoan line once more after they regathered possession. This took them into the break with a 19-point lead.

Samoa kicked off for the second half but were pushed back to their try line quickly after that as SA progressed almost unimpeded. Samoa managed to hold them back and showed some fighting spirit as they weaved a path to the half way, but the SA defence slowed their progress as they reached the 10. The game heated up in the final few minutes of the second half, as both teams acquired a yellow card for their efforts in contact. Samoa found their stride with the man disadvantage and managed to make it over the line to get a converted try from Sione. SA responded with a try of their own in the final minute as Williams carved a path for a solo run over 60 meters, securing the game if there was any doubt remaining.

Ireland 12 – 5 Spain

Ireland came into the fixture the favourites, but perhaps didn’t expect as much of a spirited performance from the Spanish. They matched the boys wearing green in energy and aggression which made for a riveting first half of rugby. Despite the smart runs and heavy carries by Ireland, Spain held on and showed some of their own inventive plays. Ireland struck first, capitalizing on a quick tap with Kelly. Spain took a note from that play book and secured a try of their own using the same method, Laforga the man who made it over. Spain’s try was unconverted, giving Ireland a 2-point lead at the break.

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The second half was equally as tight as both sides fought for dominance, on the scoreboard and psychologically. Spain cracked first. Ireland made it over with a riveting run from Lennox, but the try was disallowed. They persevered and got their second from a scrum at the 5. A later yellow card gave Spain a final chance to secure the draw with the man advantage. They used the width of t he pitch and made good ground, a try looked inevitable – but for an unforced error that prompted the whistle. Disappointing finish to an exciting game.

United States 7 – 12 New Zealand

A solid performance from both sides in the first half showing. New Zealand ended the half with a 7-point lead, but the game was very much played on the head of a pin as either side could’ve taken the lead going into the break. USA shipped the ball amongst themselves with expansive and optimistic plays, while New Zealand showcased their usual confidence and aggressive tactics. The territory was mostly split between the two sides, giving the USA much confidence that they could make their comeback in the second half.

The second half was a bit slower and more calculated from both sides as they looked to out-strategize their opponents, as opposed to outplaying them on the field. The lethal Baker made his way onto the pitch for the USA in the second half as they had a scrum feed. They turned on the gas and that’s the fuel they needed to level the score as they pierce NZ in the middle and dash to the sticks curtesy of Schroeder. Scrum to NZ after the restart and they use it to shoot out wide and regain the lead. An unfortunate lapse in defensive concentration from the USA. Good showing from both sides, nonetheless.

Great Britain 14 – 17 Argentina

Argentina have been struggling in Hong Kong, and Great Britain were all too happy to pile on, bagging an early try to boost their confidence as Davis made it over after a few stutter steps left the Argentine defenders in the dust. GB enjoyed possession with plenty of horizontal runs, poking in and out looking to unseam the Argentine defence. It had varying success but ensured they stayed with the ball for much of the half. Argentina had very little attacking presence in the first half.

It only took 10 minutes for Argentina to find their spark, after tussling with GB between the 22 for a few minutes, they cut a path through the European defence to get Isgro over the line which leveled the score. Minutes later they coated their attack in venom and struck once more to give them a 7-point lead. The spark they needed came at the time it mattered most. With only a few seconds left to play, the game seemed in the bag but GB pulled a final rabbit out of their hat to get it down over the line and take it to overtime.

Lungs were burning as the overtime whistle sounded. Argentina needed the win after two losses yesterday. Both sides played it close to the chest not forcing the issue too much. Argentina came away with a penalty at the 22 and used it to get the 3 points that gave them the game. A tough fight to make the victory but they came away with it in the end.

Australia 31 – 0 Canada

Malouf started the fixture with a try for Australia in the first minute, giving them the dream opening they hoped for. Canada remained on the ropes, trying to fend off the Australian onslaught but Icely battered the Canadian defence with a carry worthy of a 15s front rower. He gave Australia their second try, while Canada tried to remain focused. The boys in gold powered over one more time in the first half, battering the Canadians in the process. A heavily physical affair from the Australians.

The second half was more of the same, with Australia decimating the Canadian defence. They only scored two tries, but maintained an aggressive posture throughout the half, while Canada made attempts at swinging to get off the ropes but Australia ensured nothing of note landed. Paterson and Lawson were the try scorers in the second half for Australia.

France 7 – 14 Fiji

This was an important game for Fiji as they looked to maintain their record for performing in Hong Kong SVNS. A relatively slow start to the game with France holding territory around the Fijian 22 in the opening minutes. it was back and forth with Fiji looking comfortable on the backfoot. They used the backstep to propel themselves forward with an unexpected counter attack shooting right through the French defence with Loganimasi just before the break.

The second half had more of the same with France having a slight edge in possession and aggressive tactics while Fiji bid their time. Perhaps they waited too long as France’s attacking posturing gave them the space to go out wide after happily accepting the mismatch that allowed Epee over on the corner. Fiji took it on the chin and continued with their gameplan, striking at the last second to give France the knockout punch that would take them through to the knockout stages. A lovely showing from the Fijians.

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