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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Titleholder Australia misses out on Hong Kong Sevens quarters

Titleholder Australia misses out on Hong Kong Sevens quarters

Australia's defense of the Hong Kong Sevens title surprisingly ended in the pool stage on Saturday.
The Australians were beaten to the quarterfinals by the United States and unheralded Spain. All three had 2-1 records in their pool and Australia missed out on points difference just five months after winning the delayed 2022 Hong Kong Sevens for the first time in 34 years.

Australia paid for having to come from behind to beat Spain 12-7, then was routed by the U.S. 24-5 after scoring in the first minute and being tied 5-5 at halftime.

The quarterfinals on Sunday feature Fiji, the most successful team in Hong Kong, against South Africa, which has never won here; series leaders New Zealand and Argentina in a showdown; the U.S. against Britain; and Spain playing France.

Fiji lost to Argentina in the knockout rounds of the last two world series events, but in their match on Saturday Fiji came from 14-5 down with three converted tries in five minutes in winning 26-19.

Napolioni Bolaca put Fiji beyond reach when he shrugged off tackles by Santiago Vera Feld and Rodrigo Isgro on the Argentine 22, placed the ball and picked it back up, and slipped away from Joaquin Pellandini to score between the posts.

Argentina dropped into a quarterfinal with New Zealand. They have met in two finals already this season: Argentina won in Hamilton in January and New Zealand won in Los Angeles five weeks ago.

New Zealand won its pool match against South Africa 12-7, with Cody Vai's second-half try the only difference.

South Africa finished pool runner-up when it beat Kenya 26-17 with a spectacular try from Siviwe Soyizwapi, who caught a short kickoff in the air amidst two Kenyans and zoomed 40 meters to the line.

France was also unbeaten after beating both Uruguay and Britain 17-14.

The first Hong Kong women's tournament was down to four teams: Heavyweights New Zealand and Australia face first-time semifinalists this season, Fiji and Britain respectively.

New Zealand and Australia comfortably handled Canada and Ireland, but Fiji downed the United States 19-14 after a last-minute try by Reapi Ulunisau after Ilisapeci Delaiwau stripped the ball in a tackle. And Britain beat France only 5-0 after a try with nine seconds left by Rhona Lloyd, who sprinted 60 meters thanks to an overlap pass from Shona Campbell.

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