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DAY ONE WRAP: Seven of last season’s top eight qualified for the men’s quarterfinals after day one of the Emirates Dubai, the first event of a revamped HSBC SVNS 2024.

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Only France, who are expected to be joined by 15-a-side superstar Antoine Dupont later in the series, missed out, while United States was one of three teams to benefit from the introduction of losing bonus points.

(Article continues below the Impi Visser interview …)

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POOL A: BLITZBOKS ON TOP

In the so-called Pool of Death, a slow start nearly cost 2022-23 series champions New Zealand. Canada, chasing their first series win against the All Blacks Sevens in six years, took a shock 21-12 lead, but were hampered by injuries to three players, eventually going down 26-21.

Seventh-ranked South Africa, boosted by the return of veteran wing Rosko Specman from 15-a-side, capitalised on Samoa errors and a yellow card to win their opener 22-14.

That left Samoa needing to take something from New Zealand in their next group game, and they nearly took all three points thanks to Malakesi Masefau’s try from quick tap to put them 12-7 ahead at half-time. But Brady Rush’s last-gasp solo effort made it two wins from two for the All Blacks and left Samoa in a straight shootout with Canada for the final quarterfinal berth.

Canada had their chances but repeatedly spilled the ball in promising positions, while Samoa were clinical, winning 24-0 with a pair of tries apiece from Masefau and BJ Lima.

In the pool decider, South Africa roared back to beat New Zealand 21-19.

 

POOL B: AUSTRALIA SCRAPE THROUGH

Ireland shocked Australia 19-12 in the opening round of men’s games. Two tries before half-time, the first through the pace and footwork of 2022 World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year, Terry Kennedy – gave Ireland a half-time lead they never surrendered against the 2021-22 sevens series champions.

After a hat-trick from that man Kennedy eased Ireland past Spain, four tries from Argentina in as many first-half minutes against Australia left the reigning Hong Kong Sevens champions on the brink of a pool-stage exit.

But a 25-7 victory against Spain put Australia through as one of the two best third-placed teams, leaving Nick Malouf, for one, relieved. “Doing what we’d spoken about for the first time today was the most pleasing thing,” the Australia captain said. “Tomorrow’s a whole new day so we’ll put our best foot forward.”

With both teams having already qualified, Argentina topped the pool after beating Ireland 17-7.


POOL C: UNITED STATES BOUNCE BACK TO REACH LAST EIGHT

Fiji, without a series tournament win since Toulouse in May 2022, were run close by United States before captain Joseva Talacolo (pictured) reached over to score in the closing seconds.

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The double Olympic champions then faced France in one of the pool phase’s heavyweight clashes. Les Bleus struck first but a trio of quickfire tries from the Flying Fijians showcased all their attributes – fearsome fends, fabulous footwork and outrageous offloading – and they never looked back. They eventually ran out 40-5 winners with Terio Tamani dropping four conversions to go with his hat-trick of tries.

It was United States who reacted better to defeat, beating France 26-14 to top the pool and join Fiji – who lost to Great Britain in the final game of the day – in the last eight.

“I’m pleased,” Eagles head coach Mike Friday said. “We left four of our senior players at home in pre-season but the young men embraced the opportunity. We controlled the ball against a very physical team.”

COMING UP

United States’s reward for topping Pool C is a quarterfinal showdown with New Zealand on Sunday. South Africa play Australia, Ireland take on Fiji and Samoa-Argentina completes the line-up.

Dubai 7s - men quarterfinals

Day One results

Men

Fiji 21-14 United States
France 35-0 Great Britain
Argentina 26-12 Spain
Australia 12-19 Ireland
New Zealand 26-21 Canada
Samoa 14-22 South Africa
Great Britain 12-36 United States
Fiji 40-5 France
Ireland 35-10 Spain
Argentina 31-14 Australia
South Africa 35-14 Canada
New Zealand 14-12 Samoa
France 14-26 United States
Australia 25-7 Spain
Samoa 24-0 Canada
Fiji 0-24 Great Britain
Argentina 17-7 Ireland
New Zealand 19-21 South Africa

Dubai 7s - women quarterfinals

Women

United States 27-0 Spain
France 29-0 Canada
Australia 39-0 Brazil
Ireland 35-7 Japan
New Zealand 19-14 South Africa
Fiji 38-17 Great Britain
France 28-7 Spain
United States 10-15 Canada
Ireland 19-14 Brazil
Australia 66-0 Japan
Fiji 21-17 South Africa
New Zealand 43-7 Great Britain
Canada 38-12 Spain
United States 5-38 France
Japan 12-21 Brazil
Australia 33-5 Ireland
Great Britain 17-5 South Africa
New Zealand 29-21 Fiji

 

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