Upsets mark Sydney play-offs

Sun, 28 Jan 2018 02:04
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QUARTERFINAL WRAP: Two massive upsets marked the start of the play-offs at the Sydney leg of the Sevens World Series.

There were shocks galore in the Cup quarterfinals - which saw America beat Fiji and Argentina dismissing England.

Hosts Australian beat World Series leaders New Zealand, while Series defending champions South Africa eased past Kenya.

The United States will face the BlitzBoks in the first quarterfinal, while Australia are up against Argentina.

In a mouthwatering start to the second period, the Americans scored two tries to set up a 24-7 win against Fiji, Perry Baker coming up with the crucial score.

South Africa's famed defence - they have conceded just two tries in the first four matches of the weekend - allowed them to secure a 17-0 win over Kenya in an all-Africa affair.

Crucial scores by Maurice Longbottom and Lewis Holland gave Australian a 24-12 win over World Series leaders New Zealand in a brutal all-Australasian affair.

Two first-half tries and rock-solid defence saw Argentina beat an out-of-sorts England 10-0.

* In the Challenge Trophy competition Samoa (14-7 over Canada), Wales (24-5 over Papua New Guinea), Russia (17-12 over Scotland) and France (21-7 over Spain) advanced to the semifinals.  

We look at all the quarterfinal action!

Cup quarterfinals

In the first of the Cup quarterfinals, Folau Niua opened the scoring for the United States against Fiji, a lack of discipline costing the Pacific Islanders. In contrast, the Americans were quick, sharp and accurate - coming out the blocks with purpose.

Eroni Sau got Fiji into the lead with a powerful burst down the left wing, but Martin Iosefo exploited a mistake from the restart to give the Yanks a 12-7 lead at the break.

Early in the second half Fiji's discipline again let them down, with Maka Unufe stretching the lead to 17-7. Perry Baker then stepped inside from the restart to make it 24-7 with just over three minutes remaining.

Fiji worked hard to get back into the game, but a knock-on by Eroni Sau with two minutes remaining left the Fijians with too much to do. The Pacific Islanders tried hard, but their handling let them down time-and-again - gifting the Yanks a 24-7 win.

Seabelo Senatla opened the scoring for South Africa against Kenya in the second quarterfinal, a classic tap-and-go try - following some early pressure by the Kenyans. Senatla went over for his second of the match straight from the restart.

The Kenyans simply could not find a way through the SA defence and spent most of the half trapped deep inside their own territory - the BlitzBoks taking a 10-0 lead into the break.

It was a messy start to the second half - punctuated by a penalty and a couple of knock-ons - with Timothy Agaba eventually ending the deadlock after yet another turnover. A couple of penalties allowed Kenya to eventually get out their half, with Albertus Smith being yellow-carded for repeated infringements at the breakdown. Despite being a man down, the BlitzBoks held on for a 17-0 lead.

Vilimoni Koroi opened the scoring in the all-Australasian affair between New Zealand and Australia, Tim Mikkelson affecting a turnover to set up the try. Mikkelson went from hero to villain, as his knock-on allowed Terence Benjamin O'Donnell to get the Aussies on the board.

A set-piece move, from a line-out on the New Zealand 22, saw Charles Phillip Taylor going over to give Australian a 12-5 lead at the break.

Vilimoni Koroi exploited a simple missed tackle to score the opening try of the second half, to level it up at 12-all. Maurice Longbottom, with a break around the blindside, put Australia back into the lead with just on two minutes remaining. Lewis Holland got over the line for a fourth try just after the restart, making it 24-12 with just on 30 seconds remaining. That is how it stayed to the end.

Conrado Roura opened the scoring in the last of the quarterfinals - between Argentina and England. Some scrappy play followed, with Lautaro Bazan Velez scoring for Los Pumas after a step-and-go just outside the England 22 - 10-0.

The play remained scrappy, with missed tackles and knock-ons on both sides, leaving the Argentineans with a 10-point lead at the break.

The basic errors continued early in the second half, robbing England of any chance of getting momentum in the game. Los Pumas, while not much better at controlling possession, tackled like demons and secured the win.

Results:
Fiji 7-24 United States
South Africa 17-0 Kenya
Australia 24-12 New Zealand
Argentina 10-0 England  

Challenge Trophy quarterfinals

First-half tries by Tila Mealoi and Joe Perez gave Samoa a 14-0 lead against Canada.

The Canadians had the better of the game after the break, but could not break the Samoan resistance, Nathan Hirayama eventually scored for the Canadians a couple of minutes from full-time. However, it was simply too little, too late.

Wales had no trouble in disposing of a willing, but outclassed, Papua New Guinea in the second quarterfinal.

William Talbot-Davies scored early, before a yellow card allowed Owen Jenkins to exploit the extra man for a second try. Luke Morgan went over next, before William Tirang pulled one back for PNG. Lloyd Lewis completed the scoring for Wales.

Dmitry Sukhin opened the scoring for Russia against Scotland, collecting a stray pass by the Scots. Sean Kennedy eventually got Scotland on the board, but they were made to work very hard for their opener. Ilya Babaev put Russia back into the lead, 10-7, with Yury Gostyuzhev making it 10-7 at the break.

Max McFarland got Scotland on the board early in the second half, with a powerful run on the wing. Try as they might, Scotland could not close the gap and Russia held on for a 17-12 win.

Steeve Barry opened the scoring early for France against Spain, while Jean Pascal Barraque scored just before the half-time hooter to make it 14-0 at the break for the French.

Ignacio Martin Goenaga eventually got Spain on the board, after a long period of sustained pressure, but Sacha Valleau sealed a 21-7 win with a late try.

Results:
Samoa 14-7 Canada
Papua New Guinea 5-24 Wales
Scotland 12-17 Russia
France 21-7 Spain  

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