Hong Kong Sevens Day Three - live blog
Follow all the action live from the final day of the year's biggest sporting weekend
Right, I'm clocking off for another year. Another cracking tournament, and New Zealand seriously impressive winners. The only disappointment of the weekend was Hong Kong failing to make the final of the World Series Qualifer.
Keep checking on scmp.com for the latest reports and reaction from the tournament, and buy your South China Morning Post tomorrow for our unrivalled coverage.
Thanks for all the tweets and emails along these lines - please address them to the editor, with the subject line 'pay raise'.
— Chris Lowe (@chriswglowe) March 30, 2014
See you next year!
Still raining out there but not nearly as bad. Gordon Tietjens, the New Zealand coach, spending loads of time with fans, signing autographs and taking photographs with everyone.
His team are now nine points clear in the series standings with two legs to go.
“It is a great feeling," he told irbsevens.com.
— IRB Sevens (@IRBSevens) March 30, 2014
"My captain lead so well from the front, he was simply amazing. And also the other players linked in with him, we played a good final.
“That puts us back on top now, it’s topsy-turvy now which means we need to start well in Scotland, but this will certainly help in going towards winning that title."
CUP FINAL NEW ZEALAND 26 ENGLAND 7
According to our excellent interactive graphic, it's New Zealand's eighth final and fifth win since 2000. The drought for England, once kings of Hong Kong, continues. New Zealand have been in five finals in the seven legs of the World Series so far, winning three. Can anyone stop them retaining the title? I'm getting in out of the rain here, it's all over folks.
The rain waits til the fireworks are over to absolutely bucket down. Perfect timing. New Zealand strip to their chests and perform the haka in the downpour. It's almost enough to make a live blogger question his sexuality.
Brilliant display from New Zealand, they completely dominated that. DJ Forbes immense at the breakdown, winning everything, and the likes of Gillies Kaka and Tim Mikkelson so dangerous with ball in hand. They go back top of the series. The fireworks blast from the stadium roof and We Are The Champions rings out. New Zealand have the honour of being presented the trophy by chief executive CY Leung ...
FULL TIME! NEW ZEALAND ARE HONG KONG SEVENS CHAMPIONS AGAIN!
England think they've scored a try after a great 80+ metre run from
Dan Norton Marcus Watson - but it's ruled out for a forward pass
TRY NEW ZEALAND It doesn't matter as Stowers goes up the left wing and offloads to Sam Dickson from the tackle. Four minutes remaining but the Cup looks New Zealand's. Lam back on
SIN BIN! Forbes pushes England off the ball at the breakdown, and Ben Lam goes over - but it's disallowed for some reason and Lam gets a yellow card! Supposedly for tackling without the ball, looked daft decision. Rain hammering down.
TRY NEW ZEALAND New Zealand knock it about in their own half, waiting for the opportunity, slowly gaining ground through multiple phases. Eventually they work it up to the five metre, then spread it back from left to right - a brilliant long pass from Sherwin Stowers puts DJ Forbes clear to stride home down the left. Conversion good
TRY ENGLAND Tom Powell goes over just left of the posts after the hooter's gone to give England hope of a comeback. Great run initially by Tom Mitchell, halted just shy
TRY NEW ZEALAND Tim Mikkelson, brilliant skills from his own half to leave multiple England players on their bums, then last man Tom Mitchell slips to allow him to stroll under the posts. Conversion good
England run it out of their 22 to the halfway line but DJ Forbes halts Dan Norton. England start to gain territory but concede a penalty in a ruck to lose the initiative. 1:39 remaining
Kiwis getting into their stride now, the powerful Lam crunching through about four defenders before finally being halted
TRY NEW ZEALAND Both sides tackling hard, New Zealand starting to build up steam. The brilliant Gillies Kaka is just brought down on England's 22 when it looked like he was going clear. Play goes over the other side and Ben Lam just about gets the ball over the line in the right corner. Boos from some fans who think otherwise.
Great atmosphere here, England definitely the crowd favourites and passing it about nicely to start. No chances early on
Eight-year-old girl places the ball on the spot to huge cheers after winning a competition. Massive explosions go off to welcome the teams on to the pitch.
Minutes away from the final ... security mounting here in the press box because Chief Executive CY Leung is coming to present the trophy ... wonder who he's cheering for?
Third-place playoff Fiji 21 Australia 12
2nd half Not much to report there ... Benito Masilevu stretched the lead with a couple of fake passes and sidesteps then a diagonal run from halfway to the left corner. Peter Schuster gets free on the left wing right as the hooter sounds for a consolation. So, Fiji finish third. 20 minutes until the main event, New Zealand v England in the final.
Australia take an early lead through Paul Asquith, but Fiji are quick to respond, Samu Saqiwa speeding down the left wing. Vaisea Nacuqu gets another, faking a pass to the right wing then driving down the middle. Fairly meh stuff, neither look too bothered about third place.
Two blocks of Wan Chai spilling with the Sevens crowd pic.twitter.com/V1f5Xq1lSY
— Kristine Servando (@tinssoldier) March 30, 2014
That's the Worst finish from South Africa in this World Series - Plate Winners - shows how tight the competition is #HongKong7s
— AtTheSevens.com (@AtTheSevens) March 30, 2014
Plate final South Africa 19 Wales 14
2nd 1/2 South Africa right back into from the restart, the magnificently monickered Kwagga Smith putting two Wales defenders on their backsides with a double shimmy. Seriously, Kwagga? Wales then completely fall asleep and Ulengo is allowed to stroll down the left wing completely unmarked for his second try to leave Wales 5 points down with 2 minutes to go. That's how it ends, although there's time for a minor brawl, Kok acting like a ... kok ... and Wales' Sam Cross steaming in to help his teammate.
A few drops of rain falling but no sign of that storm yet with the main event coming up soon. In other news, I just threw a paper plane on to the pitch, apologies about that.
I'm still in my refractory period after that magnificent Scotland display. Perfunctory notes on this one. Jamba Ulengo scores 40 seconds in, he's got a habit of doing that. After concerted pressure, Ross Jones gets free from a 5m scrum and Wales nip ahead. After the hooter sounds, Jason Harries scores from his own chip kick through after an amusing fresh-air attempt to clear from Werner Kok. He made a kok of that alright
Dat comedy Japan try miss:
Bowl final Scotland 31 France 5
2nd 1/2 France nearly score straight from the restart but the thought of offending the rugby gods forces a fumble right on the line. Substitute James 'Jinky' Johnstone then makes them pay with a dazzling run to evoke his footballing namesake, storming from deep to go over on the left. He immediately makes it two, Swampy getting his dreads in his eye and punching the ball straight to Scotland five metres out. Lee Jones adds another just to really rub it in, skipping some attempted 'tackles' and speeding home. It briefly looks like
we they might concede one late, but such weakness is for losers and Englishmen.
The crowd is in raptures, what magnificent memories the youngsters here are getting. They'll be able to tell their grandkids, 'I was there'
Some may argue that the Bowl is merely a consolation prize for slightly rubbish teams, but I think we all know that bowls are much more useful and highly prized than cups or plates.
Erse. Scotland come out flying, offloading the ball in the majestic flowing fashion the Scottish game is famous for. But France jammily get a penalty and Terry 'Swampy' Bouhraoua and his stupid annoying crusty dreadlocks sprint down the pitch to score. Scotland dominate possession Barca-style before finally deciding to score, Andrew Turnbull taking it over the line. Conversion puts the fan favourites ahead and after the hooter goes, Turnbull's in again, after Mark Bennett contemptously swatted aside a Gallic impostor and offloaded.
Reet Scotland, right intae these. A fat guy in a chicken outfit invades the pitch before kick off, if that's not a good omen I don't know what is
Shield final Kenya 17 Portugal 10
I didn't pay attention to that one, too busy looking at this ominous sky. Some consolation for Kenyan fans after a fairly underwhelming tournament. Next up it's the power of mince and tatties over watery beef bourguinon in the Bowl final.
[Gust Forecast] 5:20PM: Pls take precautions. Gusts reaching 70 km/h or above may affect HK. http://t.co/WEnieaZvyx
— Observatory HKO (@ObservatoryHK) March 30, 2014
— Observatory HKO (@ObservatoryHK) March 30, 2014
A satellite pic of the weather from the Hong Kong Observatory - could we have a rain-lashed final?
The Qualifier competition dream team, well done Yiu Kam-shing
— IRB Sevens (@IRBSevens) March 30, 2014
Batten down the hatches shipmates, thar be a storm a-brewin'
30 Mar 4:50PM:An intense area of rain and thunderstorms is crossing the Pearl River estuary, ... more http://t.co/vYpvxzUZPN
— Observatory HKO (@ObservatoryHK) March 30, 2014
Qualifier final Japan 26 Italy 5
2nd half XVs winger Kenki Fukuoka comes on at half time and instantly scores with a dazzling run through the middle from well inside his own half. Not much action after that until Fabrizio Sepe pulls one back with 40 seconds left. Kosuke Hashino then makes an interception on the wing and cruies in for a try - and drops the ball! He can laugh about it, the crowd certainly can.
Bit of an anticlimax this one after Hong Kong's failure to make the final, but well done to Japan, they play the remaining two legs of this season's Sevens Series and all of next term's. Hopefully good for Asian rugby.
Massive prize at stake for the winner of this - a place on next season's IRB World Sevens Series. Fully confident Japan will walk it. - And they take 30 seconds to start proving me right, Yusaku Kuwazuru diving in the left corner. A minute later, Kuwazuru's in again. Italy almost hold out til half-time but concede a third as Katsuyuki Sakai collects a lovely behind-the-back pass to go under the posts.
— Caroline Wilson (@CWilsonHongKong) March 30, 2014
— MlNlON (@MlNlON) March 30, 2014
I will never get tired of hearing tens of thousand of people belting out Sweet Caroline #HK7s
— tw|tterton (@SarahTitterton) March 30, 2014
Cup semi-final New Zealand 19 Australia 7
2nd 1/2 Kaka in the sin bin after an infraction at the end of the first half, but Australia can't benefit. After he comes back on, Australia pull one back, Afa Pakalini, sprinting round the back - game on. But a lovely mutliple-phase move up from the pitch, culminating in a superb flick pass from Scott Curry, sends Kaka under the posts again with less than a minute left. NEW ZEALAND - ENGLAND in the final at 1900, a repeat of 2011 when the Kiwis won. New Zealand's fifth final from seven events this season - they've won two, lost two
Another cracking opening, Australia with the early pressure but unable to make it pay. New Zealand get on the board with their first sniff, DJ Forbes emerging from a ruck with ball and handing to Tim Mikkelsen, who runs under the post from 40 metres. Gillies Kaka immediately adds another, again from the breakdown, Mikkelsen snatching it this time. Looks like another final awaits for New Zealand, their first since 2012.
Cup semi-final Fiji 7 England 17
2nd half England with all the ball but none of the territory early on as Fiji keep them penned in their own 22. They get a penalty with just over 3 minutes to go and Tom Mitchell opts to take the points from the boot rather than play, despite the crowd's boos. Fiji respond by scoring the try of the tournament, end to end, multiple behind-the-back passes, and Waisea Nacuqu finishes.
So England get one over their former coach Ben Ryan and knock out the title holders. They've beaten two of the series' top 3 so far, and will likely have to beat the other, New Zealand, if they are to win their first Hong Kong Sevens since 2006. England's first final here since 2011.
Fiery opening, great atmosphere from the full house. First blood to England after nearly four minutes, Marcus Watson with a fake pass left and dart right to get clear, then lays off for Tom Powell to score under the posts. Brilliant play from Dan Bibby then gets him beyong wthe line and he plays in Watson, who gets it down under the posts despite the efforts of Joeli Lutumailagi. Great first half - can the title holders fight back?
Plate semi-final Wales 31 Canada 14
Wales go in at half time with a big lead through Sam Cross, Jamies Davies and Luke Morgan, Sean Duke pulling one back for Canada. Will Price immediately stretches the lead upon the restart with a nice pick-up, strong hand-off and spin over the line. Alex Webber adds another with 3 minutes to go, darting through with a nice sidestep. Harry Jones gets one back with 30 seconds to go, but that's not going to make much difference. Comfortable win for the Welsh, they face South Africa in the final at 17:55
Plate semi-final USA 19 South Africa 24
2nd 1/2 Exactly the same start to the second half as the first, Ulengo diving under the posts. Great work from Kwagga Smith, striding towards the try line with Americans hanging off him. Mexican wave has started, never a good thing. But Ryan Matyas gets the US Eagles on the scoreboard in this conference semi-final, receiving the ball on a passing play and showing his 4:40 speed to drive deep to the endzone TOUCHDOWN EAGLES. Brett Thompson is then picked out on a running play and gains 50 yards - TOUCHDOWN EAGLES. And the power play continues, Nick Edwards taking the ball after a scrimmage play and arriving in the end zone from the left corner on a 12-yard gain. TOUCHDOWN EAGLES. Five points in it - but the South African D holds out as the shot clock runs out and the Springbokkers go through to the conference final against Wales Dragons or Canada Maple Leafs.
South Africa waste no time going ahead, Jamba Ulengo picking it up from a scrum and striding over at speed. Stephan Dippenaar stretches the lead with 90 seconds remaining, catching a high kick and showing some slick sidestepping. A minute later he's over again as South Africa spread it to the left wing in USA's 'end zone'.
Bowl semi-final Samoa 5 France 38
2nd half Jonathan Laugel the latest to profit from rubbish Samoa play, striding through from about halfway. Islanders have been dire this weekend. Ritchie Ah Chong (sounds like he could be eligible for Hong Kong?) gets one back with a great head-up sprint down the left wing. Brian Dimeck bullocks though moments later though to restore France's lead. All a bit easy here for Ze Bleus
France's Renaud Delmas goes off on a great run from deep, to huge cheers from the French supporters in the east stand - then huge boos to the French haters everywhere else. Virimi Vakatawa then bags a quickfire second, to much the same response. Vakatawa then bags his second from the halfway line, handing off a couple of Samoans along the way. He's some force when he gets going. After the hooter goes, Samoa make an a*** of a simple pass and a Delmas grabs the ball out of the air and drives in for his second. Looks like an Auld Alliance final
— Dominic Wong (@dommywalker) March 30, 2014
Bowl semi-final Scotland 24 Argentina 12
2nd 1/2 The mighty kilted warriors continue where they left off, Lee Jones collecting a pass in the right-hand corner, voting NAW to an attempted Argentina tackle and AYE to a try in the corner. Distracted by wondering where it's possible to get Irn-Bru in Hong Kong (big Wellcome in Causeway Bay), they allow Santiago Alvarez to slip in to make it tight with two minutes to go. But Mark Robertson soon restores the natural order of things, slipping a couple of attempted tackles and sprinting under the posts to seal a magnificent victory that will go down in the annals of rugby history. Fittingly, the sky has turned very dark and gloomy.
Diego Palma is having a good tournament, and he gives Argentina the lead after they work it out right to left in Scotland's 22 then find him with a long miss-pass. Brilliant equaliser from Scotland though, winning a lineout on their own 22 on the left wing, working it across to Mark Bennett on the opposite flank; he shrugs off a challenge and charges down the wing from the halfway line. James Eddie then gets the ball from the restart and bullocks through a weak defensive line to stride under the posts. The beef-eating gauchos being taught a lesson about the power of deep-fried puddin'.
Decent display from Sri Lanka, 19-24 to Portugal, but they're going home. Didn't disgrace themselves among the big boys. Up now, it's the mighty Jockland against Argentina in the first Bowl semi-final
Couple of reports from the day's action:
- Ben Ryan hopes Fiji will smile again after USA give them a ‘fright’
- ‘Courageous’ England tough it out to beat Blitzbokke 14-7
Sri Lanka putting up a decent fight against Portugal here, 12-17 with 4 mins to go
Kenya through to the Shield final, 12-7 winners over Spain. Up next, Sri Lanka v Portugal
— IRB Sevens (@IRBSevens) March 30, 2014
Baah, really disappointed with that Hong Kong performance. Never got going at all against Italy, punished for a bad fumble by Salom Yiu Kam-shing late in the first half, and then made a really poor decision to go back inside rather than wide early in the second when they had a chance to equalise.
Hong Kong head coach Gareth Baber told me a couple of weeks ago that it was far too early for the benefits of turning full-time to be seen, and that was certainly true, with HK looking tired and less fit than the Italians. Now the focus turns to the Asian Games in Incheon, with HK expected to at least medal - if not get the gold.
At least Asia should have a team on the World Series next season - I'm 100% confident Japan will crush Italy in the final.
Right now, the Shield games are underway, with Kenya leading Spain.
Italy 12 Hong Kong 0
That's it - Hong Kong's dreams of joining the World Sevens Series are over. Hugely disappointing display after HK beat Italy 19-0 yesterday. Italy will take on Japan in the final.
Try Italy - 12-0. Italy work their way upfield with a kick and then maintain pressure in HK's 22, finally working it right where Sepe jinks in for his second. 3 minutes for HK to mount a comeback
Good start from HK, but they mess up a chance to score early on through poor decision-making. Both teams look knackered.
Tense half, with both teams evenly matched. Hong Kong with a little more of the ball but unable to do much with it. Italy almost nick a try after a big boot down the field, Hong Kong too slow to get back. Long after the hooter goes, Italy get ahead - Salom Yiu Kam-shing fumbles on the right wing and they break downfield. Two try-saving tackles, but eventually Fabrizio Sepe gets over. All to do in the next 7 minutes.
— Chris Lowe (@chriswglowe) March 30, 2014
Japan 19 Russia 14 - after sudden death
JAPAN WIN. Tackle after tackle from Russia, but eventually the pressure tells and Lote Tuqiri gets clear and lays it off for Kosuke Hashino. Great match.
Real tough game that - hopefully that means good news for Hong Kong in the final, if they get past Italy now.
Great battling from Russia, so physical - at times on the edge of legality as we hear a Japan player getting clunked in jaw all the way up in the press box. Japan finally get through with 90 seconds remaining, Yusaku Kuwazuru collecting a lovely layoff from Lote Tuqiri after a mistake by Russia 40 metres out. EXTRA TIME!
The first Qualifier semi. Hong Kong take on Italy next. Russia surprisingly take the lead after a low-key start, Vladislav Lazarenko getting free on the right after some nice interchanges of passing. Then an amazing bit of play - Yoshikazu Fujita seemed set clear to level for Japan but inexplicably decided to try to find a teammate just five metres from the line. His pass is intercepted by Evgeny Nepeyvoda, who runs it back all the way to the opposite posts. Lomano Lemeki saunters clear with seconds to go, celebrating 40 metres out - Japan need to wake up second half if they are to avoid an upset.
What on earth was Fujita thinking??? He might have just cost his team a spot on the circuit next year. Soon to be legendary blunder. #HK7s
— Ray's Rugby (@raysrugby) March 30, 2014
So, the Cup semi-finals look like this:
Fiji v England (15:52)
NZ v Aus (16:14)
Australia 14 Canada 12
2nd 1/2 Good news is Wales' Will Thomas is fine, according to the stadium announcer. Back on the pitch, Australia equalise quickly, Alex Gibbon kicking out of a tackle on the left and diving in. Conversion puts the Aussies ahead. Not a whole lot of flowing play or action until 90 seconds to go, when Canada spread it from right to left along midfield and set Ciaran Hearn free to go in on the left. Australia suddenly spark into life, great running from Cameron Clark down the left wing and he sends in Paul Asquith under the posts - the conversion seals the win.
Harry Jones gets Canada on the board early on, and they keep the pressure up for most of the half. Um ... that's it
New Zealand 28 Wales 5
2nd 1/2 Worrying looking injury that for Wales' Will Thomas - lengthy treatment at half-time to get him onto a stretcher, did not seem to move at all. More news when we get it.
Meanwhile, the action must go on - New Zealand get their fourth try when Lee Williams loses the ball in a tackle just beyond halfway. Scott Curry goes on a brilliant run down the left wing, and lays it off for Tim Mikkelsen to stroll over the line. Samuel Cross gets one back for Wales with a good run of his own down the left wing, but it's far too late to affect the result
Early pressure from Wales but they can't make it count - and then New Zealand pass the ball out from behind their own try line and Ben Lam runs the entire length of the pitch to score under the posts. Scott Curry gets the Kiwis' second after patient buildup in midfield. Gillies Kaka gets a third after the hooter with a Wales layer seemingly unconscious near the halfway line. Wales outclassed here.
— NZ7s (@nz7s) March 30, 2014
England 14 South Africa 7
2nd 1/2 Tight second half, with not many clear chances. First England, then South Africa, exert the pressure. But England get ahead, finally breaking out of their own 22 through the speed of Dan Norton. Jack Clifford just manages to keep up for the try, limping over the line with a muscle strain. Conversion good to give England 7-point lead with a minute to go. Big blow for the series leaders as they go out early - paid the price for not beating Australia in pool stage.
Dan Norton gets England off the mark with his fourth of the tournament, picking up a mislaid pass on the right wing and darting over. Great conversion for 7-0. Cracking atmosphere at the Stadium today even though the South Stand is less than half full - fair few people sleeping last night off still. South Africa level in the last minute when Stehpan Dippenaar takes a quick tap-kick on England's five-metre line and releases Justin Geduld to go in under the posts.
The baby heads are back - two of them at least:
Fiji 17 USA 5
2nd 1/2 Thrilling second half, USA giving as good as they get, and Ratabuli with a magnificent try-saving tackle. Then Brett Thompson has a try disallowed after a video replay - didn't look a whole lot wrong with it and the boos ring out. USA are then penalised - again perhaps harshly by ref Anthony Moyes of Australia - for holding on and Joeli Lutumailagi breaks clear and sets up Osea Kolinisau to seal it. Big boos from the fans, who feel USA were harshly done there.
Fiji don't take long to get into their stride - Donasio Ratubuli storms through the US defensive line but his no-look pass is picked off. A minute later he does the same, though, and this time he offloads for Samisoni Viriviri for 7-0. His seventh of the tournament. A minute later, Osea Kolinisau goes over in the right corner after a scrum and quick tap-kick from Viriviri - 12-0. Viriviri should have had his second but inexplicably fumbles behind the try line after a clever kick through. USA pull one back in the last minute, Mike Palefau running through far too easily from his own half.
Thrilling second half to that clash - France win 19-14 with the scores level at the hooter. France down to six men for most of the half after a player sent off.
Up now the main event ...
Portugal currently leading 7-0 against France in the last Bowl QF. Back in a minute with the first of the Cup clashes - Fiji v USA
Here's highlights of day
one two action:
Unsurprisingly, Samoa came back strong in the second half to beat the Sri Lankan minnows 33-14. Bit of rain blowing into the press box here, and a few mutters of "uh-oh" from the fans next to me ...
Here's a catch-up of our articles from today's Sevens coverage in the newspaper:
- Hong Kong scrape past Chile to move closer to World Series dream
- Legend Waisale Serevi's magic rubs off on 'awestruck' Hong Kong youngster Raef Morrison
- Brian Leung inspired by HKSI elite status to pursue his rugby dream
- IRB must quickly tackle Olympic eligibility rule
- Let’s be honest, part of the entertainment of watching sport is the attractive athletes
- Japan prevail in the rain as Hong Kong eye final assault
- The perils of getting frisky at the tournament in an age of smartphones
- England’s ‘low key’ progress soothes Tom Mitchell
- Saturday's best pictures
- Video: Day 2
The Bowl Quarter-finals are underway at the moment, with Sri Lanka stunningly leading at half-time against Samoa right now - can't last can it? Samoa have been really poor this tournament.
Here's the results of the earlier games, and today's fixtures:
Kenya 12 - 26 Scotland
Argentina 7 - 5 Spain
Samoa Sri Lanka - 12-14 HT
France v Portugal
Cup (from 11:28)
Fiji v USA
England v South Africa
New Zealand v Wales
Australia v Canada
Qualifier tournament (from 12:56)
Japan v Russia
Italy v Hong Kong
Good morning, and welcome again to Hong Kong Stadium - didn't we just leave?
Cracking day in store, with the big guns in the Cup competition, and Hong Kong trying to qualify for the one spot available in next season's IRB Sevens World Series
The main action gets underway at 11:28, with the Cup Quarter-finals, and Hong Kong take on Italy in their Qualifier semi-final against Italy at 13:18.
There's a bit of drizzle in the air, and the sky is grey, but hopefully there'll be no repeat of yesterday morning's crazy storm.