Kiwis sneak into Rio play-offs

Wed, 10 Aug 2016 15:06
Large new zealand 7s dejected 800

OLYMPIC SEVENS: New Zealand sneaked in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics, courtesy of South Pacific rivals Fiji.

Fiji edged the United States 24-19 in a bruising affair, the last match of the pool stages, to ensure the Kiwis advance on points difference (one solitary point) ahead of the Yanks.

Earlier Australia continued the run of upsets when they beat South Africa in a decisive pool match on Day Two in Rio.

The 12-5 win failed to knock the BlitzBoks off top spot in Pool B, but certainly kept alive the Aussies' hopes of making the quarterfinals.

It was not just the first loss of the tournament for the South Africans, but also the first points they had conceded in the pool stages.

At the conclusion of Pool B, South Africa and France were confirmed as the first two guaranteed medal quarterfinalists.

Australia - despite the impressive win over the BlitzBoks - finished third in the table on points difference and had to wait to see if they are one of the two top third-placed teams.

However, Australia eventually qualified as one of the two best third-placed teams - the other being New Zealand.

For their trouble, the Aussies get a rematch with the BlitzBoks in the quarterfinals.

In the Pool C decider Great Britain beat New Zealand 21-19 to reach quarterfinals - with three wins out of three, New Zealand finished third in the group after two defeats and had to wait to see if they qualify.

Japan also advanced to the last eight, following a comprehensive 31-7 win against Kenya in Pool C.

Quarterfinal fixtures:
Fiji v New Zealand
Japan v France
Great Britain v Argentina
South Africa v Australia

We look at the Day Two action!

Pool A:
(Fiji, Argentina, United States, Brazil)

Argentina enjoyed the lion's share of the possession. Axel Muller found top speed on the left-hand wing and used his considerable power to finish the first try. Captain Gaston Revol picked up off the base of the scrum and doubled their tally. The cherry on the top in the first half was a textbook arching break for Santiago Alvarez and that made it three to the good for Los Pumas.

Brazil were being stretched in defence and it was German Schulz that found the gap they've been waiting for. His route one acceleration brought the opening points of this second half. Hosts Brazil could not get off the mark against their more experienced neighbours and both sides leave the field to rapturous applause - with Argentina having qualified for the quarterfinals.

It was physical and tense, with both sides having kept each other in the middle of the field. The United States couldn't break Fiji until Danny Barrett took matters into his own hands. He stepped away from Jerry Tuwai and scored. Madison Hughes added the conversion and the United States were one up.

The Fijian comeback was impressive, as always. First Osea Kolinisau got Fiji back on level terms, before they continued to keep the ball alive. Kolinisau went from hero to villain as he was given a yellow card for a high tackle. The half didn't stop there, as Vatemo Ravouvou had the last say with a try.

Perry Baker got the United States back in front, when spotted a big gap in the middle of Fiji's defence. Viliame Mata then left Perry Baker in his wake, before Semi Kunatani stepped for a crucial try.

It's another nailing biting finish, as Chris Wyles had put in Nate Ebner for a try. However, the conversion - which would have seen American advance ahead of New Zealand - was wide. Fiji held on in the face of a late charge by the Yanks, to go through unbeaten.

Results:
Argentina 31-0 Brazil
Fiji 24-19 United States

Pool B:
(Australia, France, South Africa, Spain)

It was Terry Bouhraoua's moment of magic that ignited the opening half of Day Two's first encounter. He was integral in scoring the first try.

Damien Cler offloaded out the back in the tackle and then Virimi Vakatawa flicked the switch. He danced around two Spanish defenders and powered over the line with another on his back. Damien Cler and Jeremy Aicardi added two more quick tries, but they'll be disappointed for letting Spain have the last word by running the length-of-the-field.

In the decisive second pool match there was a string of early errors from both sides.

Jesse Parahi showed a wonderful step and fend to score the first points of this match and that settled a few Australian nerves. South Africa struggled to get their hands on the ball and their error-rate climbed alarmingly. Henry Hutchison ensured quick ball out of the ruck and Tom Cusack took route one to score the second try - 12-0 at the break.

Australia were patiently working their way up-field, before turning the ball over. Speedster Seabelo Senatla profited from a backline move that took the ball out wide.

However, the BlitzBoks were heavily penalised and failed to get another score - despite a more determined effort - and the scored stayed unchanged to the end 12-5 to Australia.

Results:
France 26-5 Spain
South Africa 2-12 Australia

Pool C:
(Great Britain, Kenya, New Zealand, Japan)

Japan continued to make fans all over the world and we saw why - as Kazushi Hano started the scoring. Collins Injera quickly levelled the match at 7-all for Kenya. Japan were in possession after the hooter had sounded for half-time and they went the length of the field before Lomano Lemeki stepped Injera for the try.

Japan were on a roll after the break and Kazuhito Goya broke off the back of the scrum and powered over for the try. Confidence and creativity were oozing out of the Japanese and it got even worse for the Kenyans when Humphrey Kayange was given a yellow card for pulling a maul down. Japan got a penalty try. One of the stars of this Japanese side, Lomano Lemeki, notched up his fourth try of the competition. The victory, and positive points difference meant that Japan advanced to the quarterfinals.

In the pool decider it was the Great Britain team who got out the blocks the fastest. New Zealand were showing early intent, but Great Britain's defence was strong and on their first opportunity Dan Norton raced up-field. Once his work was done, Mark Bennett put in a chip-and-chase as Great Britain claimed an early lead. James Davies then powered over, before captain Tom Mitchell kicked forward and put Dan Norton over.

After a big half-time team talk New Zealand were always going to erupt into this second-half and they did so thanks to their power players.

Rieko Ioane picked up a loose ball and drove over. Ioane's try was immediately followed up by Regan Ware and Great Britain had hardly any ball to play with after the break. Great Britain claimed the vital restart and they knew that they needed to keep hold of possession until full-time - which they did.

Results:
Kenya 7-31 Japan
New Zealand 19-21 Great Britain

Source: @WorldRugby7s

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