London 7s: Eagles soar past BlitzBoks; Fiji knocked out
London 7s: Eagles soar past BlitzBoks; Fiji knocked outSHARE
Hosts England and New Zealand are unbeaten after a thrilling day of action in London.
The rain and sun traded places at Twickenham as the 16 teams battled for position at the last tournament of the 2016-17 world series.
Sunday's Cup quarterfinals will see United States play Australia, New Zealand face Scotland, England meet South Africa and Argentina take on Canada.
Olympic gold medallists Fiji, who last failed to reach the Cup back at Las Vegas in 2014, find themselves in the Challenge Trophy quarterfinals against Russia and out of touch of England in the battle for second place in the overall standings.
Japan will not be one of the 15 core teams on the world series next year after they were relegated following a heavy 5-61 defeat to Fiji in the Pool stages.
We look at all the Round Three action on Day One!
(South Africa, United States, Wales, Kenya)
Wales showed their class during their opening Pool A match against United States with tries from Ethan Davies and Owen Jenkins keeping them on a par with the Americans at half time. A tremendous try-saving tackle from Luke Morgan on Martin Iosefo in the second half stopped United States's momentum and set Wales on course for an impressive 28-12 victory.
New series champions South Africa had a slow start in Paris last week, losing to Scotland, and threatened to repeat that feat in London as they limped to a less than impressive 12-10 win over a physical Kenya side, who challenged them from the off.
United States made up for their earlier loss with a 47-0 demolition of Kenya in their second match of the day, but the highlight of the pool was undoubtedly the battle of South Africa and Wales, which went down to the wire on the Twickenham turf. Chasing the game at 12-5, the crowd erupted as Wales broke down the pitch following a James Benjamin interception allowing Owen Jenkins to cross in the final minute. However Billy McBryde couldn't convert and the BlitzBoks escaped with a 12-10 victory.
The hard work put in by the Welsh was undone by Kenya, who eclipsed Gareth William's side with an impressive 28-14 win, ending Welsh hopes of a quarterfinal appearance.
South Africa tore into United States with renewed intensity in their last pool match of the day, but it was Stephen Tomasin who opened the scoring for Mike Friday's team, before a cheeky Ruhan Nel chip and chase try was cancelled out by Ben Pinkleman. The two teams were well matched and Siviwe Soyizwapi used his power to put the sides level, until Perry Baker put on the jet shoes against Rosko Specman in the second half and crossed in the corner. Andrew Durutalo's handoff and try ended the match, leaving it 24-12 to United States.
Wales 17-28 Kenya
South Africa 12-24 United States
United States 47-0 Kenya
South Africa 12-10 Wales
United States 12-28 Wales
South Africa 12-10 Kenya
(Scotland, France, Argentina, Russia)
After hosting the ninth round of the series last weekend in Paris, France featured five newcomers in the team for London and their inexperience showed as they lost 35-7 to Argentina on Saturday morning.
Scotland, on a high from their appearance in the final last weekend, found it tough against a plucky Russian side and the 21-7 scoreline flattered captain Scott Riddell's side, but they soon found their rhythm later in the day as tries from Mark Robertson, James Fleming, George Horne and Joseva Nayacavou helped them to a 26-19 win against Argentina.
France picked up the pace after their initial pool defeat; they were run close before beating Russia, 26-20, but surprised Scotland later in the day with a Pierre Popelin try making the difference as the French claimed victory, 17-12.
Later, Argentina's 26-19 win over Russia was enough to ensure them passage to the quarterfinals where they'll meet Canada on day two.
Argentina 26-19 Russia
Scotland 12-17 France
Scotland 26-19 Argentina
France 26-20 Russia
France 7-35 Argentina
Scotland 21-7 Russia
(New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, Japan)
Fiji barely fired a shot in Paris last weekend, bowing out at the quarterfinal stages, and they didn't get off to a strong start in London, losing to Canada in the first game of the day as Canadian legend John Moonlight crashed over for his 100th career try in the last minute, to claim the win 22-19.
Fiji did however get their tournament back on track, but at the expense of Japan. They were victims of the biggest loss of the series as the Fijians ran in nine tries to win 61-5, a loss that was cruelly compounded as Japan were officially relegated as a result.
A recent School of Sevens featured the importance of decision making on the pitch and after their clash with New Zealand, Canada will rue a last-minute decision by Harry Jones not to pass infield, which would have resulted in a certain try. As it was, the All Black Sevens walked away with a 19-14 victory and set them on course for the quarters.
The clash of New Zealand and Fiji is always interesting in London, and this match lived up to the hype. The game was on a knife-edge when New Zealand's Lewis Ormond intercepted a loose pass and sprinted over to score. Fiji fought back with a classy try from Jerry Tuwai but sub Jesse Houston closed the game out, ensuring Fiji would not make the Cup quarters.
Canada ensured their quarterfinal position with a 28-14 win against Japan and will meet Argentina in the quarters on Sunday.
Canada 28-14 Japan
New Zealand 27-21 Fiji
Fiji 61-5 Japan
New Zealand 19-14 Canada
Fiji 19-22 Canada
New Zealand 33-7 Japan
(England, Samoa, Australia, Spain)
Despite a strong performance in Paris where they went unbeaten on day one, Samoa struggled in the first game of the day as Australia won easily, 34-5. A rapturous round of applause greeted England and Spain as tries from Dan Bibby, Ruaridh McConnochie, Ollie Lynsey-Hague and Phil Burgess ensured an easy 28-7 win for the host side.
Since winning a place on next season's series in Hong Kong, Spain will have learned a lot but they'll need to work hard on defence if they're to compete, as Samoa scored six tries to beat the Spanish, 40-7.
Dan Norton is chasing United States's Perry Baker for the series top try scorer and he narrowed the lead by scoring two against an Australian side that were much improved since Paris. Australia dominated for much of the first half but a yellow card to Boyd Killingworth swung the momentum in favour of the home side. Two tries for Norton made the difference, the last coming with extra panache for his home fans.
After Australia glided past Spain, 45-7, England and Samoa served up a classic that went down to the wire. With England trailing 17-19, Simon Amor's side kept their composure to break down the tough Pacific defence with Alex Davis crashing over for the winning try to ensure a quarterfinal with the series champions.
Australia 50-0 Spain
England 24-19 Samoa
Samoa 40-7 Spain
England 19-12 Australia
Australia 34-5 Samoa
England 28-7 Spain