HONG KONG SEVENS
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Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2016

RECAP: All the action from Day One of the Hong Kong Sevens 2016

It's that time of year again - follow all the action from the biggest sporting event of the year live here

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2016, 12:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2016, 9:15pm

READ ALL OUR SEVENS COVERAGE HERE

FULL FIXTURES AND RESULTS HERE

Well, that's it for day 1. Favourites Fiji and New Zealand had to mount impressive comebacks in their opening games, while crowd favourites England upset South Africa. Meanwhile, Hong Kong have it all to do on Saturday after a shock defeat to debutants Germany

Catch up with all the action and reaction below the line - and make sure you tune in tomorrow as the action heats up. 


FT: South Africa 14 England 21 Cagey start to the second half before Norton gets involved again, chasing his own up-and-under, taking it down with a cushioned touch Ronaldinho would have been proud of before being held back on the line for a penalty try. Four minutes for South Africa to make up a two-try deficit. After much huff and puff, Philip Snyman finally puts one on the board for the Africans, but with only 30 seconds left for a leveller. England win lineout after the hooter sounds and that's game over. Good win and the crowd roar their approval

Meanwhile, the joke of a Hong Kong Stadium pitch has started to cut up. Surprised it lasted this long, to be fair. Let's see how it fares over the weekend.

HT: South Africa 7 England 14 Crowd favourites England up last tonight. Been pretty rubbish this season. They come out flying, and after concerted pressure, Phil Burgess gets them on the scoresheet, taking an offload from a ruck and steaming in from 20 metres out. Speedster Dan Norton quickly doubles the lead after South Africa fluff their restart catch. With South Africa third in the table, this would surely have to count as an upset. South Africa's try-machine Seabelo Senatla pulls one back - his 44th of the season- as the hooter sounds.

FT: Australia 28 Argentina 0 A cruise for the Ozsters. Lewis Holland added a third and Allan Fa'alava'au with a cracking run for the fourth. Argentina have been decent this season and upset a few big guns, but never turned up for this one. Honey Badger Nick Cummins had a debut try in sight after jinking past a couple from 40 metres out, but drops it on the line!

HT: Australia 14 Argentina 0 Didn't follow this one too closely as I was wrestling with our computer systems to get some new pix on the blog. Ed Jenkins and John Porch with the tries, James Stannard with the extras in what seemed a fairly routine seven minutes for the Aussies

 

FT: Fiji 19 Canada 17. Dancing in the Moonlight, as the Canada skipper scores his second, capping a lovely move, and the first major upset of the day is on the cards. Fiji immediately charge up the pitch though, and make it 12-17 with a minute and a half left through Rawaca, skipping past several defenders. Canada reduced to six and then 5 with seconds to go as Harry Jones is carded for a trip ... can Fiji make the extra men count as the clock ticks down ... YES THEY CAN! Semi Kunatani steams in from the left and under the post to level and Osea Kolinisau kicks the winning points. Another great game. "FIX", shouts my colleague Tim Noonan, who is of the Canadian persuasion

HT: Fiji 5 Canada 12. Savenaca Rawaca, series top-scorer, opens his account with a blistering run down the right wing, but after Fiji are reduced to six men, Canada hit back through captain John Moonlight and then Sean White with a couple of stiff-arm fends. Game on against defending champions

 

WATCH: Gordon Tietjens and Sonny Bill Williams on New Zealand's comeback win

FT: New Zealand 19 France 17 Gillies Kaka makes up for his first-half blunder with some quick feet and deft offload to Kurt Baker on the right wing. The conversion puts the Kiwis right back in it, and from here you'd fancy the French to fold. And after some concerted pressure, Mikkelson grabs his second to put New Zealand in front for the first time. Best match of the day so far. That's the difference between one of the best team's in the world and, er, France. Kiwis have looked a lot better after Sonny Bill went off though. 

HT: New Zealand 7 France 17 This could be a cracker, and France get it off to the perfect start, Julien Candelon diving over in the left corner after being put through from a ruck on the 5-metre. Six Nations breakout star Viri Vakatawa swiftly scores another after some great play from Pierre Gilles Lakafia. Kiwis have been far from invincible this season despite lying second in the table. Gillies Kaka then passes the ball straight to Jonathan Laugel on his own 22 for a third. Goodness me. Kiwis hardly out of their own half and Sonny Bill Williams has hardly had a touch. Captain Tim Mikkelson ensures they end the half with some points after they finally exert some pressure for the last minute

FT: Scotland 28 Russia 15 Normal service resumed after the break with the rampant Scottish Lion running roughshod over the Russians. James 'Jinky' Johnstone with some cracking fast hands on two occassions to score before James Fleming added another with a minute to go. We decided to give Denis Simplikevich one back after the hooter just to be nice. Next up tomorrow, an Auld Enemy clash against the Sassenachs which is sure to make the mouth water like a plate of yer mam's neeps and tatties. 

HT: Scotland 7 Russia 10 Had to take my eyes off this one, but I presume there must have been some Putinesque polonium funny business going on, as that's the only explanation the mighty Jockland could be behind. 

FT: US 21 Portugal 5 Bit of a non-event of a second half, with a paper plane nearly hitting me in the ear the only incident of note. Well, until Madison Hughes pounced on a loose pass with a minute to go to stretch the lead

HT US 14 Portugal 5 All America all match long, and Martin Iosefo makes the pressure pay halfway through the half. No sign of Super Bowl winner Nate on the bench - he might be rested after playing in the Hong Kong 10s the last few days. The States are without one of their flying machines, Carlin Isles, but another, Perry Baker, turned on the afterburners from the halfway line to score the second. Tomas Appleton makes a game of it after the hooter after good work from Tiago Fernandes

Meanwhile, here's some fans:

FT Wales 40 South Korea 14

Korea are only making up the numbers as the invited team, but gave a good account of themselves, without ever actually troubling Wales. Tries in each half for the minnows, who are at or below Hong Kong's level (at least in theory).

Nice easy cruise for the Welsh. 

Up now it's the US v Portugal, with Super Bowl winner Nate Ebner starting on the bench

 

FT Samoa 0 Kenya 24

Another after the break for Kayange, as Kenya took the foot off the pedal a bit. Samoa have been really poor this season

HT Samoa 0 Kenya 17

We're underway in the main event, and Kenya have come out flying, camped in Samoa's half and running in three tries from Samuel Oliech, Willy Ambaka and Humphrey Kayange. Meanwhile, the South Stand is nearly full as the sun sets and the drinking begins in earnest

Here's some reaction from Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber from Sam Agars and Kevin Kung. Understandably not best pleased

 

And Germany's Phil Szczesny, who scored a brilliant winning try:

 

 


David Hasselhoff is 'Sevens Ambassador' this weekend, god only knows why. The Baywatch and Knight Rider star and the man who single-handedly brought down the Berlin Wall, is on the pitch now with former Ireland star Brian O'Driscoll and athlete Daley Thompson to 'dot the eyes' on two dragons to kick off the main event. Unless I'm hallucinating, which is possible

 


Women's final FT - South Africa 14 France 7 Congratulations to South Africa, who are women's champions. Took a two-try lead and never looked like relinquishing it despite late fightback from the French.

The main event kicks off at 6.10, with Samoa v Kenya. 

What we've learned from the afternoon session: Japan are the team to beat in the World Series qualifier, Spain also impressing - but Hong Kong have serious work to do to qualify for the next stage after a dire defeat to Germany


Some quotes from our roving reporters Sam Agars and Alex Jenkins:

"There's no excuses, we've got to do better than that" - Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber. Can't argue with that

"Best moment of my life, which might get surpassed in a few days but let's see." - Cayman Islands' tryscorer Mark Soto. He gets married on April 14

FT Hong Kong 5 Germany 12

Well, that was frankly rubbish from Hong Kong, who never looked like breaking through a very well-organised German line (er, until they actually did). Sloppy passing, far too slow all round ... 

Credit to Germany, who were impressive. 

What it means now is that Hong Kong face a must-win game against Zimbabwe, nominally the toughest side in pool, to make the next round. If they play like this again, no chance 

TRY!! Hong Kong 5 Germany 12 AIYA! 40 seconds on the clock and HK opt to kick for territory for some reason. Germany's Phil Sczesny runs on to an up-and-under then shows great footballing skills to juggle the ball over the line and into his hands. That's full-time and a very bad result for HK

TRY!! Hong Kong 5 Germany 7 Oh dear oh dear ... Germany spend all the second half in HK's territory, and Tim Biniak finally goes over the line. The conversion means it's a worrying last three minutes for the hosts

HT Hong Kong 5 Germany 0 Hmm ... a very tight opening half, with all the pressure from HK but nothing to show for it. A bit sloppy with the final ball on a few occassions. Finally, LONG after the half-time hooter, Alex McQueen gets over the line, after sub Rowan Varty showed some flashy hands. The Germans seem very well-organised, and other cliches.

A German fella to my right ear might be their only fan in the crowd, but he's making up for that in decibels

FT Zimbabwe 35 Cayman Islands 5

Routine - and much-needed - win for the Africans in HK's group. Not too impressive on the evidence of their two games today though. They face HK tomorrow, while the hosts are up against Germany in the next match today. Nice moment for captain Mark Soto, with the Cayman Islanders' first try at this level.

The stands are filling up nicely, even though it's not even 5 o'clock yet. If you're reading in the office and want to get doon the South Stand, you might want to take an early cut and get over.

ICYMI earlier - Hong Kong narrowly missed out on a place in the women's final. Read Sam Agars' report here


FT Chile 19 PNG 7 Papua New Guinea were semi-finalists in last year's qualifier, but have been fairly rubbish this year. Two defeats, 7-52 on aggregate. A second win for Chile, but they still don't look too impressive.

Next up it's Zimbabwe v Cayman Islands in HK's group, then the hosts against Germany.

Same starting 7 for Hong Kong: Cunningham, Coverdale, Jones, Meacheam, Rimene, Hood, McQueen

Colleague Naz notes a nice charitable touch from the Hong Kong Rugby Union this weekend:

This year at the Hong Kong Stadium, funds raised from Diamond Vision screen messaging will go towards relief operations for the victims of Cyclone Winston in Fiji.

Traditionally the funds have been allocated to the HKRU Charitable Trust Fund supporting education for disadvantaged local rugby players to allow them to maintain their involvement in rugby.

However, in light of the sheer devastation in Fiji, in which hardly a single family was spared – including members of the Fiji Sevens team – it was decided to this year allocate the money to help those who have lost loved ones, homes and businesses.

The minimum donation for the messaging board is HK$200 a pop.

Messages can be placed from the information booth immediately opposite the main gates.

Read Matt Scott’s interview with Fiji coach Ben Ryan on exactly how the cyclone affected the people and the team.

FT Spain 41 Mexico 0

A hiding from Spain, who've looked very impressive in their openers. 74-0 their aggregate score for opening day. Glen Lewis Rolls - not the most Spanish-sounding name - with a hattrick. Spain and Japan the teams to beat in the World Series Qualifier.

FT Tonga 26 Brazil 5

Another match I didn't pay a great deal of attention to as I got a call from Singapore radio to do an interview. The country is hosting the first Singapore Sevens next week, and it'll be interesting to see what sort of reception it gets - a potential future threat to Hong Kong as the leading tournament in Asia?

Very surprised at how average Tonga look, struggling to see off a limited Brazil side. They only put the game to bed after Brazil were reduced to six men

FT Japan 45 Morocco 0

Another cruise for Japan, who've hardly broken sweat in their two openers. 81-0 their aggregate score and looking like likely finalists again. Tuqiri, Sakai, Soejima in the first half, Goya, Tokunaga (2), Lemeki in the second.

Sun is out - a bit - now, and the stands are starting to fill up. 

Meanwhile, here's a video diary from the England camp

 

FT Hong Kong 43 Cayman Islands 0

Well, that's what we call a spanking. Perfect start to the weekend for Hong Kong, though it's hard to know what we learned from the whipping boys of the group. Next up it's Germany at 5:02. 

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 43 Cayman Islands 0 FT Caymans make a rare foray into Hong Kong's half, but Toby Fenn collects a dangerous loose ball in a chase, and HK hit back on the break, spreading the ball from one side of the pitch to Varty on the right wing. He offloads in the tackle metres out for Toby Fenn to score. 

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 36 Cayman Islands 0 Cracker from Salom Yiu Kam-shing, collecting a dodgy pass from fellow sub Rowan Varty on the right wing and darting in diagonally to the posts, arrowing through five or six Caymaners

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 29 Cayman Islands 0 Less than a couple minutes into second half and Coverdale continues where he left off taking the ball in the left corner from Lee Jones and fending off two defenders.

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 24 Cayman Islands 0 HT  Time for one more after the half-time hooter, Michael Coverdale bullocking his way over next to the posts with Cayman Islanders hanging off him. Chance to rest players and / or run up the score here

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 17 Cayman Islands 0  And another. Some weak attempts at tackles brushed off by HK, McQueen takes it from a ruck and offloads to Ben Rimene in the right corner. Conversion just wide

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 12 Cayman Islands 0  Hong Kong looking a bit sloppy, but still too good for the minnows. Alex McQueen will be key this weekend and he gets off the mark just left of the posts after some patient build-up from the hosts 

TRY HK!! HONG KONG 5 Cayman Islands 0  Doesn't take HK long to get off the mark, captain Jamie Hood with a bit of jiggery-pokery five metres out to bamboozle the defence. 

 

2:45 Zimbabwe 14 Germany 14

Hmm ... impressive result for debutants Germany. Both of these are in Hong Kong's group and on the evidence of this 14 minutes, we don't have much to fear from either. Early days though. Germany fought back from two tries down and held out under late pressure. The draw's a great result for HK.

UP NOW - HONG KONG v Cayman Islands

2:26 Chile 29 Mexico 14

Not gonna lie, didn't watch that one. Having some, er, IT issues here, with the live blog perhaps not updating. Bear with us as the computer geniuses at SCMP HQ get on the case. 

 

TEAMS: Hong Kong line-up to face the Cayman Islands in a veritable #PanamaPapers battle of the offshore kings. Er, what am I on about

Hong Kong: James Cunningham, Michael Coverdale, Lee Jones, Ryan Meacheam, Ben Rimene, Jamie Hood, Alex McQueen

Subs: Toby Fenn, Cado Lee, Chris Maize, Rowan Varty, Salom Yiu Kam-shing

 

1.58 Spain 33 PNG 0

A comfortable win for Spain. Tries for captain Matias Tudela, Marcos Poggi and Pol Pla. I think I'll keep the updates on these early matches to full-time only ... calm before the storm right now

More importantly, however, I've just learned that there are no free meal vouchers for members of the media this year. Now, given the quality of food on offer in the Stadium, that could be seen as a boon, but I'm still outraged at having just paid out of my own pocket for the first of many beef pies this weekend. THIS WILL NOT STAND!

1.51 Spain 14 PNG 0 HT

Pretty, er, 'cagey' (ie dull) first half. Spain looking to get back on the World Series after a rather rubbish campaign the season before last. Angel Lopez and Francisco Hernandez with the tries.

Meanwhile here's a video from Kevin Kung of this morning's mini rugby action - see if you see your boy or girl

 

1.38pm Tonga 17 Morocco 19

Morocco switched off after going 19 up through Adil 'Admiral' Achahbar and Tonga almost made a comeback through Soni Asi (2) and Tuihakavalu Ika. 

In more important news, there is a German in full lederhosen garb next to me

1.30pm Tonga 0 Morocco 14

Morocco looking impressive against Tonga, surprising at least to me. Two tries in the first half for them, Mohamed Abid and Karim Qadiri

Meanwhile, here's a good read about Super Bowl winner Nate Ebner from Sam Agars, who will be playing for the US this weekend (Ebner, that is, not Agars)

1.18pm Japan 36 Brazil 0 FT

Further tries for Kazuhiro Goya and Shohei Toyoshima in a routine opener for Japan. Brazil will be on the end of quite a few hidings in Rio in the summer you feel.

Japan have Morocco and Tonga in their pool, with Morocco at 3:12 today. 

Hong Kong are up at 2.50, against the mighty Cayman Islands ... should be a nice warm-up.

Very grey and overcast here, stands fairly empty so far before the post-work crowd gets here, but still quite a few hardy souls in fancy dress.

Big news from this morning is that American flier Carlin Isles is out, replaced by Super Bowl winner Nate Ebner

1.08pm Japan 24 Brazil 0 HT

We're underway, and Japan are cruising against Brazil, who will be playing in the Olympics as hosts in the summer. Tries for Yusaku Kuwazuru, Lomano Lemeki (2) and Masakatsu Hikosaka. Japan need to win this qualifier tournament to stay on the World Series next season.

Meanwhile, in the women's tournament, it's South Africa v France in the final. Hong Kong reached the semis after an impressive win over Japan, but were knocked out by France, just 5-0. Unlucky.


Hello and welcome to our coverage of the Hong Kong Sevens 2016, the biggest sporting event of the year.

With rugby sevens in the Olympics in the summer, this year promises to be even more exciting than ever. 

All Blacks stars Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam, Australia's 'Honey Badger' Nick Cummins, and France's Six Nations breakout livewire Viri Vakatama are among the 15s big names on show this week, while American football Super Bowl winner Nate Ebner is in action for the US.

Defending champions Fiji (106 points), New Zealand (105) and South Africa (104) are locked together at the top of the World Series standings and will likely figure come Sunday. Argentina, USA, Australia and England will be among those trying to push for an upset.

Meanwhile, there's also the World Series Qualifier competition, which sees 12 teams - including Hong Kong - battle for a place with the big boys on next season's World Series.

The action kicks off at 1pm with Japan v Brazil - tune in here to make sure you don't miss a kick of the ball.