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Hong Kong Sevens

The Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is an international seven-a-side rugby tournament held every March as part of the Sevens World Series and featuring the world’s top teams.

SportRugbySevens

Hong Kong Sevens Day One - live blog

Follow all the action from Hong Kong Stadium live on the biggest sporting weekend of the year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 9:51am

Alright, that's it from me. What have we learned from Day One?

1) Japan are rightfully favourites for the Qualifier Competition, but HK are in there with a chance

2) New Zealand, South Africa very impressive

3) Fiji absolutely frightening

So, pretty much what we knew before the day started actually ... 

It'll all become even clearer tomorrow - Hong Kong in action at 10:28, I'll clock in a bit before that, so see you here bright and early

 

 


Fiji 42 Wales 7

A repeat of last year's phenomenal final. Unlikely to match that game - but Samuel Cross of Wales scores right from the kick off against the winners of last week's Tokyo Sevens and the defending champions here.

Fiji hit right back, Donasio Ratubuli stiff-arming a Welshman then laying off for the series' top tryscorer Samisoni Viriviri to take his tally to 34. Another flowing move seconds later sees Emosi Mulevoro set clear to power under the posts, Pio Tuwai striding across the pitch with various despairing Welshmen hanging off him before offloading. And Tuwai sets up try number 2 for Viriviri, spinning and pirouetting through Wales' defensive line despite his enormous size. Olea Kolinisau, last year's hat-trick hero in the final, bags one after the hooter after more great rapid offloading ... 28-7 at the half ... I think Wales made them angry with that early score.

Sizable contingent of Fijian fans partying in the North Stand, as much of the Stadium tries to beat the traffic home. Surprisingly quiet second half from the Fijians, Wales even threatening to score, before they finally but a surge on and Setefano Cakau goes turbo-heeled over the line, Wales' Craig Price just giving up in disgust 30 metres out. Another move, another off-load, another sprint, and Joeli Lutumailagi appears from nowhere to put try no.6 under the posts

Definitely the most impressive performance of day one, from the title holders - worrying one for the rest tomorrow.

 


South Africa 31 France 7 HT

The penultimate match of the evening, with Series leaders South Africa kicking off their bid to win Hong Kong for the first time ever

Kyle Brown, the South Africa captain, goes off, might have been knocked out, after what looked a real cheap shot from one of the French players. No punishment though, officials didn't see it.

After the game restarts, Seabelo Senatla busts out an NFL style juke to dizzy a couple of Frenchists and open the scoring in the left hand corner. France equalise immediately though, Virimi Vakatawa on a 50-metre touchline run down the left. It looks like all square at the half, but just as the hooter sounds, South Africa win the ball from French lineout, and Justin Geduld contemptously hands someone off to go under the posts.

France reduced to six almost immediately upon the restart for some sort of jiggery-pokery that I didn't catch - and Senatla instantly makes them pay with another great jinking run down the right. Cecil Afrika comes on and it's not long before he's on the scoresheet, finishing off a flowing passing move in the left. Werner Kok the next sub to show tremedous speed, busting through from 40 metres. It's officially a doing for La France as they are completely outclassed after a tight first half.

Easy to see why South Africa top the series - albeit by just two points - a lot of exciting talent there.


England 19 Argentina 12

Bit of a grudge match this one. James Rodwell gets a special cheer as he plays in his 50th tournament for England.

Slow start, not much happening, before Tom Mitchell bursts clear for his 27th try of the season. He's the series' top pointscorer. Argentina hit back immediately though, the diminutive Diego Palma with a great hand-off as he goes in on the right hand side.

Second half and it's that man Rodwell who puts his team in front on his big day, a nice sweeping move by England setting him up under the posts. Mitchell seals it with 3 minutes to go, collecting the ball from the base of a ruck, confusing a couple of Argentinians with some fast hands, and breaking through two tackles to go over in the left corner. Argentina pull one back through Juan Ignacio Brex, working the ball through multiple phases from the right wing to the left in England's 22, but it's just too late to spark a comeback


Aaaand we're back. 

Canada won the women's title, beating France quite comfortably, now it's time for the mighty Scotland to teach the Kiwis a rugby lesson

New Zealand 33 Scotland 0

New Zealand somehow cling on for the first four and a half minutes before Gillies Kaka, whose cousin plays soccer for Brazil, breaks through and scores. Mark Roberston kicks through after multiple phases of play from Scotland, but the TV replay shows he just drops the ball before getting it down. From the scrum, NZ work it to the halfway line on their right and Sherwin Stowers charges down the wing and over. A lot of work for Scotland to do here ... 

Bah humbug. Scotland defend with everything for the first couple of minutes, finally get out of their own 22 only for Bryce Heem to collect the ball, do a jinky sidestep, and surge clear of the line and under the posts to make it 19-0. Marty McKenzie adds try number 4, Ambrose Curtis No.5. Scotland pinned in their own half for the entire seven minutes. Sair yin. Next up it's a Falklands clash as England take on Argentina.


Kenya 41 Sri Lanka 0

Sri Lanka are only in with the big boys to make up the numbers - not good enough to qualify for the Qualifying Tournament ... this could be ugly. 

But they make Kenya wait nearly three minutes for the opener, Andrew Amonde just too big and fast to be taken down. Dennis Ombachi makes it 10-0 soon after and Collins Injera adds to his considerably Sevens Series tally just as the hooter goes. 

Horace Otieno storms under the posts staraight from kick-off in the second half to make it 22-0, and it's going to be a long seven minutes for the Lankans. Biko Adema strolls past someone for try number six?  ... starting to lose track here ... Oscar Ayodi adds another straight from the restart ... Billy Odhiambo blasts over two defenders for another ... how many's that now?

"An old-school donkey-licking" says my colleague. Hope that's not racist - he's Australian, so odds are it is.

Alright, I've been plugging away here for about six hours, time for a break for some of the disgraceful grub at the stadium


Australia 28 Spain 14

No tries for four minutes, that must be a record today. Tom Lucas finally breaks through some determined defending from the series' bottom side to put the Aussies ahead. BOOOO says the South Stand to that. Nick Malouf then finishes off a lovely move from Australia just next to the left-hand post, Lucas involved again as the Aussies spin out of tackles and offload multiple times in a fluid bit of play.

Aye-aye, Spain get back in it right from the start of the second half, Angel Lopez doing brilliantly to offload to Brice Labadie, who sprints under the posts from the halfway line. Spain keep the ball in Australia's half for a couple of minutes, but their first mistake is punished, Cameron Clark going clear down the left to put them two scores ahead once more. Afa Pakalani seals it with a similar play, Australia soaking up pressure then capitalising on a mistake. Niil Baro gets one back for Spain, great run from his own 22, offloading, then receiving it again in the corner, but it's too late


Canada 35 Portugal 7

John Moonlight gets Canada off to a scoring start right from kick-off, shrugging off two attempted tackles as he cuts in from the right wing and goes under the posts. Then the massive Nanyak Dala gets into his stride and can't be stopped. Portugal threaten to work their way back into the match until Conor Trainor bashes and spins his way past a couple of challenges. Pedro Bettencourt eventually pulls one back to give Portugal some hope for the second half, good work from Bernardo Cardoso on the breakaway on the left wing before offloading

Moonlight at it again as second half begins, picking up the loose ball after Canada nearly score from a kick and chase. Really shines for Canada, etc. 

Canada spend much of the second half in Portugal's 22, but no more scoring until well after the hooter goes, Sean White finally ending a period of sustained possession around Portugal's five-metre line. 


Here's my colleague John's take on Hong Kong's performance on opening day:

Hong Kong shrug off shaky start for 'perfect' first day


USA 26 Samoa 12 FT

The atmosphere's really picked up here as the main event gets underway and the sun starts to go down. Danny Barrett scores almost straight from kick-off for the US and Zack Test adds another before Samoa get one back through Sani Niue. Madison Hughes goes over again for the US just before half-time.

Kelly Meafua gets a second try on the board for Samoa in the second half, but Test seals the win with his second of the match. Good game

Zimbabwe 19 Chile 14

Chile have looked decent against Russia and Zimbabwe, but two defeats from two. Good defensive display before Stephan Hunduza finally gets through with 30 secs left in the first half. Njabulo Ndlovu, Hunduza with two more in the second half; Francisco Gonzalez pulls two back after some good play, but Chile run out of time to snatch it.

Hunduza with five in two games, if I'm counting properly (always doubtful)

And that concludes the day's action in the qualifier tournament - USA v Samoa kicks off the main event in about 10 minutes.

Here's my ranking of the qualifier contenders after two games each; hopefully HK can continue to improve tomorrow. Japan clear favourites, not much between the rest, it's going to come down to super fine margins and luck

1) Japan

2) Zimbabwe (just)

=3) Hong Kong, Russia

5) Italy


Russia 45 Barbados 10

Barbados go in front, but Russia hit back with four first half tries to stomp out ideas of an upset. Putin's men being roundly booed by the HK Stadium fans. That'll teach him. I do see a Russia flag being waved in the South Stand, mind you.

Not super impressive from Russia, despite the scoreline, against probably the worst team in the entire tournament.


"The South Stand is nearing capacity" ... with geezers like this. Looks about 95% full to me

 


Italy 17 Tunisia 12

Decent scrap between the other two teams in Hong Kong's group. Italy went 12-0 up early, but Tunisia fought back to level in the second half. Kaine Robertson took a pass on the right wing  and surged over to make it 17-12 with a minute to go.

So Italy and Hong Kong both have two wins from two, the winner of tomorrow's game between them will win the pool.

Meanwhile, been perusing the stats from HK's 2 games. Twice as many tackles in their second game, 18 to 9, and only 3 missed compared to 5. Twice as much set-piece ball won as well (15 to 7). Strike rate (passes per try) much better - 4.8 to 16.7. Shows how much better Tunisia are than American Samoa, but also how much improved were HK.


Hong Kong 42 American Samoa 7 FULL TIME

Much better performance that from Hong Kong, against admittedly weaker opposition. Unlike their sleepy first game, they came out flying. More of that needed tomorrow, but for Friday it's job done - two wins from two. Back against Italy at 10:28am tomorrow as they try to ensure they win the pool. 

 

38-7 And Varty scores again on the hooter. Good win

33-7 But Tom McQueen replies immediately!

28-7 Little disappointing for HK as they miss a couple of tackles and Maugalei Veavea pulls one back.

28-0 HK continue where they left off, good bullocking run from Morrison, then a nice little pass from Hood to Tsang Hing-hung who goes over

HALF TIME HK 21 American Samoa 0 

21-0 Tremendous start from HK, but they've taken their foot off the pedal a little ... American Samoa still in this ... until Rowan Varty jinks through right on the hooter, taking a pass from Jamie Hood after a lineout on the left. Team looks much better with Varty starting

Try-saving tackle from Jamie Hood deep inside HK's 22, dragging Ryan Paaga into touch, as American Samoa try to fight back.

14-0 HK win lineout on their right touchline, work it across the pitch and Salom Yiu Lam-shing sprints over from the halfway line, jinking past a couple of defenders. His third of the tournament

7-0 Brilliant start, Rowan Varty winning the kick off, breaking a couple of tackles and laying off for 18-year-old Raef Morrison to score his first ever Sevens try


"STAND UP IF YOU LOVE RUGBY" exhorts some fairly pump song ... crowd stands up .. and goes for a beer. Here come Hong Kong to take on American Samoa


Cook Islands 5 Uruguay 31

Uruguay look no' bad ... otherwise not a lot to say.

For the record, Nicolas Freitas set Uruguay on their way, then bagged another a minute before half-time, before Teu Paerau pounced on his own kick through right on the hooter. Santiago Martinez got a third in the second half to make the win secure, before Ian Schmidt sealed it with a great run. Hernan Pintos with another on the hooter

So that's Pool G done for the day, next up Hong Kong. Four changes to the team that started the last game:

Lee Jones, Raef Morrison, Max Woodward, Alex McQueen, Rowan Varty, Jamie Hood, Salom Yiu Kam-Shing

South Stand starting to get rowdy ... about 70% full if you're coming down 


Japan 41 Trinidad & Tobago 0

Favourites continue where they left off, Lote Tuqiri scoring twice in the first half and Yusaku Kuwazuru adding another after the hooter.

Straight from the restart, Josefa Llidamu goes on a tremendous run from 60 metres or more, best try of the tournament so far. Timoki Kitagawa gets the fifth try of the game shortly afterwards with some jinking feet. Lilidamu adds another, barging and burrowing his way through three or four West Indians. Yoshikatzu Fujita ticks the score over the 40-point mark

Trinidad and Tobago outclassed, and Japan definitely look big favourites to win that one coveted place on next season's IRB Sevens World Series. They should thump the Cook Islands tomorrow to comfortably win the pool.


Zimbabwe 49 Barbados 5 

A pounding that for the debutants, though Leon Driscoll at least got a try for them. Zimbabwe a decent side and Stephan Hunduza got a hat trick.

Highlight for the neutral undoubtedly seeing Zimbabwe's Boyd Rouse get absolutely cemented in the tackle of the day

We've seen all the contenders in the qualifier competition now. I'd rank the contenders as follows on their openers, hopefully Hong Kong prove my initial thoughts wrong. Next, Japan are back out as the qualifier teams play their second matches over the next two hours. Lomano Lemeki will miss the game

1) Japan

2) Zimbabwe

3) Russia

=4) Italy

=4) Hong Kong

 

Couple of nice photies from Hong Kong's game from our crack team of snappers ... meanwhile, Zimbabwe are thumping debutants Barbados 28-0 at half-time.


Russia 19 Chile 17

I'd be lying if I said I paid too much attention to this one - but it did get interesting second half as Chile briefly threatened an upset at 14-17 - but after the hooter, Evegeny Nepeyvoda went on a great run down the left wing, breaking two tackles, to win it. Sore one for Chile. Big boos for Russia  interestingly - some Ukrainians in the crowd? Surely not.

 

South Stand is starting to fill up, I'd say maybe 40%. Not exactly a gipping atmosphere for these early games it has to be said. 

A reminder, you can send us your Sevens Selfies through our mobile app - we'll feature the best here and you could win tickets for next year.

 


Italy 31 American Samoa 12

Italy are supposed to be dark horses for this qualifying tournament behind favoured four Japan, Russia, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong and they certainly looked decent in this game - though it's hard to tell how good American Samoa are in their first major sevens tournament outside the Pacific region.

Tries from Fabrizio Sepe, Kaine Robertson and Giulio Rubini put them well ahead in the first half, and Gianmarco Vian scored immediately after the restart and Oliviero Fabiani capped off a nice team try. Pentateuch Vaki (great name) with his country's first ever HK7s try and Maugalei Veavea with their second

Italy a tough opponent for HK tomorrow.


Hong Kong 19 Tunisia 7  FULL TIME

A win, but very unconvincing from Hong Kong. Try-saving tackle from Yiu Kam-shing in the second half, minutes after he had put HK 14-7 up - otherwise it could have been a different story.

Team looked better after Rowan Varty came on - strange he did not start - but little fluidity to their attacks. Yiu, with two tries and that tackle, one of the few to impress.

Hopefully that was just a loosener. HK are next out at 16:56 against American Samoa

19-7 A yellow card for a Tunisian after some repeated infiringment by their team and Hong Kong work it wide right through Hood for Yiu to score his second

 

14-7

Hong Kong dominate the ball in the first part of the second half, and finally get through a determined Tunisia defence, Salom Yiu Kam-shing bursting through the middle and under the posts.

 

Hong Kong 7 Tunisia 7 Half time

7-7 Poor from Hong Kong, no pressure on the ball at all, too slow in the tackle, as Tunisia enjoy sustained possession at the end of the half. Finally, Hossem Khalifa gets the ball in space on the left as the hooter goes and strolls over. Much improvement needed second half

7-0 Hong Kong finally get into Tunisia's half, and make them pay. Brilliant run from Tom McQueen stopped just short, but HK work it back out wide, and this time McQueen is in acres to go over. Conversion Hood.

Oh dear ... early let-off for Hong Kong - Mohamed Gara Ali storms down the right wing, but after lengthy discussion and the video replay, it's clear Alex McQueen forced him to drop the ball with a last-ditch tackle. Bad start HK

HK: Hewson, Jones, Morrison, A McQueen, Hood, T McQueen, Yiu

Tunisia: Really? Ok ... Chelli, H Khalifa, Essid, N Khalifa, C Khalifa, Jabri, Ali

 

Cook Islands 21 Trinidad & Tobago 7 HT

Not exactly a thriller that one, no offence to any Caribbean / Pacific islanders out there. T&T put up a decent fight for a while before being outclassed by their (slightly) more experienced opponents. Japan will absolutely walk this group.

But next up ... HONG KONG

After a good run by Harry Berryman, Paerau went over in the right corner to put the Cook Islands in front, then James Raea bagged one on the other side to stretch the lead to 21-7. Great conversions from Berryman.


Teu Paerau gets the Cook Islands on the board and they then camp in debutants T&Ts half. But the magnificently named Agboola Silverthorn shows some Usain Bolt-like pace down the left wing to set up Tony Lopez for the equaliser.

More importantly, my colleague Alvin has appeared with some Samosas from the Indian Rec Club across the road, a welcome alternative to the inedible monstroties available from the stadium caterers

Japan 24 -0 Uruguay HT

All rather comfortable that for the Japanese, who we hope will not crush Hong Kong's dreams once again here. Uruguay had a couple of sniffs in the second half, but poor ball-handling and decision-making let them down.

Japan, with their three big Pacific Islander forwards and flying XVs wingers, are likely the team to beat in the qualifying tournament - but let's see how the rest shape up.

Up now it's the big one, Cook Islands v Trinidad & Tobago

24-0 Japan finally liven themselves up after a sleepy start to the second half, and work it out left where Tuqiri gets his second


5-0 About 2 minutes for the first try of the tournament, Japan working it from their right touchline all the way across the pitch to Kenki Fukuoka on the left side. One of two XVs wingers drafted into the team for this event, he flies down the wing to get the favourites for the qualifying tournament on the board.

12-0 Two minutes later, from a scrum in Japan's half, Uruguay get caught out and Katsuyuki Sakai offloads for the big Lote Tuqiri to go over

19-0 Some what can only be describing as messing about from Uruguay in their own 22 sees them pass it to absolutely no-one. Japan pick up the loose ball and Sakai stretches the lead. Too easy.

 


1:58pm

We've had our Dragon Dance, now the action is just minutes away. Hong Kong's nemesis Japan up first, against Uruguay.

Keep track of all the results, past and current, on our infographic here


1.40pm

A fair selection of Where's Wallys in the South Stand already, and I think I can count seven Smurfs.

The minis have just vacated the pitch and there 's a dragon dance troupe who look ready to entertain us.

Meanwhile, I've been updating our website with a few of the stories from our Sevens supplement in today's paper (available at all good newsagents etc).

Hong Kong's home hopes

Sevens dream for HK kids Raef Morrison and Max Woodward

Blitzbokke in front in a two-horse race

Reigning champions Fiji to do their talking on the pitch


1pm

Hello from Hong Kong Stadium for another live blog from the city's biggest sporting weekend. 

It's a grey, overcast day threatening rain as fans start to trickle in. 

We've just had the kids out on the pitch for the mini rugby games, and the real action kicks off in just over an hour, with Japan v Uruguay in the first game of the World Series qualifying tournament - where Hong Kong are among 12 'non-core' teams seeking to win the competition and a place on next season's IRB World Sevens Series.

HK - newly full-time after winning elite status at the Hong Kong Sports Institute - are in action at 14:44 against Tunisia, then 16:56 against American Samoa.

The big boys don't take to the pitch until 18:24, with a repeat of last year's final - Fiji v Wales - the final game of the day at 21:26.

Stay tuned here all day for ball-by-ball coverage.

Get involved by sending us your tweets and download our new mobile app from the iPhone and Android stores to send us your Sevens Selfies via the iScoop feature - we'll feature the best here and pick a winner from the weekend to receive free tickets for next year's tournament

Meanwhile, you can catch up on all our Sevens preview material and features here

1pm

Hello from Hong Kong Stadium for another live blog from the city's biggest sporting weekend. 

It's a grey, overcast day threatening rain as fans start to trickle in. 

We've just had the kids out on the pitch for the mini rugby games, and the real action kicks off in just over an hour, with Japan v Uruguay in the first game of the World Series qualifying tournament - where Hong Kong are among 12 'non-core' teams seeking to win the competition and a place on next season's IRB World Sevens Series.

HK - newly full-time after winning elite status at the Hong Kong Sports Institute - are in action at 14:44 against Tunisia, then 16:56 against American Samoa.

The big boys don't take to the pitch until 18:24, with a repeat of last year's final - Fiji v Wales - the final game of the day at 21:26.

Stay tuned here all day for ball-by-ball coverage.

Get involved by sending us your tweets and download our new mobile app from the iPhone and Android stores to send us your Sevens Selfies via the iScoop feature - we'll feature the best here and pick a winner from the weekend to receive free tickets for next year's tournament

Meanwhile, you can catch up on all our Sevens preview material and features here

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