Olympics Sevens: Jerry Tuwai Saves Fiji

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The Men’s Olympics Sevens competition kicked off at the Deodoro Stadium with drama and heartache as Jerry Tuwai saved Fiji. Tuiwai prevented Fiji from a potential draw with Argentina in Pool A with a copybook tackle on Axel Muller.  The tournament favourites survived the Argentine onslaught to win two-from-two on the opening day.

The Men’s game has lost plenty today with Sonny Bill Williams and Joe Webber of New Zealand both bowing out of with injuries. Australia have lost play maker Lewis Holland, and Samisoni Viriviri has also limped out.

It was a day full of surprises [Japan had defeated New Zealand 14-12 in Pool C] Argentina had dented the United States campaign, while referee Craig Joubert made some dubious calls which saw him officiate only one match today, and hosts Brazil stood tall against Fiji and Team USA.

Jerry Tuwai Saves Fiji

Jerry Tuwai came off the bench against a determined Los Pumas side to pull of the ‘tackle of the tournament’ so far. Axel Muller, who is twice the size of Tuwai, was motoring down the sideline when the sweeper cut him down. It showed the heart of the Fijian players, and their determination to reach for Gold.

Others to perform included Josua Tuisova, who plays for Toulon. He was in devastating form when he literally ‘ran over Brazil’ in the first game. He showed his class against Argentina too, with the opening try, brushing aside would be tacklers. Tuisova has scored three tries so far, and with Sonny Bill Williams gone, he could now logically be, the poster-boy in Rio.

Kitione Taliga scored two against the Pumas to rescue his team ‘from the brink’ of a major upset. He continued his fine form from the HSBC Sevens Series and had to, as defensive lapses allowed Argentina into the game. It can be lost or won on a single performance, so Ben Ryan would be happy his men could reverse such individual errors.

Two wins, but Fiji can still improve

Fiji was given a run for their money by the hosts in the first half, a half where they only managed one try. Brazil in fact scored the opening and closing tries of the game, to the delight of the crowd. However, in typical fashion, Fiji went on a rampage to score a 40-12 victory.

Argentina Look Strong On Day One

Axel Muller was outstanding for Argentina, leading by example from game one. Juan Imoff and Matias Moroni both had a great outing, with Bautista Ezcurra and Rodrigo Etchart each contributing well. Their work at the breakdown was the key to their victory over the United States. The opening match has been the ‘stepping stone’ for sides, and Argentina benefited most.

ARGvUSA
Argentina’s Axel Muller (R) hands off USA’s Danny Barrett during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Deodoro Stadium in Rio de Janeiro

The Pumas just need to beat Brazil now, to book their quarter final spot. Importantly, win and score as many points as they can. They looked hungry today, but come play-off time, they could spring a few surprises. Consistency has been their Achilles heel in the past, so Argentine fans will hope they rectify that.

United States Have A Battle On Their Hand

The United States, who are seeded second in Pool A, will have a real battle against Fiji tomorrow. They need to win that game desperately to earn a spot in the quarters. A loss could mean that the United States will have to rely on other results to go their way. In the Olympic competition, the two best third-placed finishes will earn the final two positions available. Mike Friday will want his side to determine their own destiny.

The United States can step up their game from the start by utilizing their fast wingers. Work on their restarts might bring instant reward, and to focus on winning vital turnovers to deny Fiji possession. All the fundamentals needs to be the mindset on Day Five. Andrew Durutalo and Danny Barrett will need big games tomorrow, that lay the foundation for Madison Hughes to exploit.

Brazil Unexpectedly Competitive At Home

The Brazilians surprised everyone with their ‘in your face’ defence. Their refusal to give in easily to their high-flying opponents made Brazil the ‘darlings of day four’. It was a step-up from Brazil’s World Rugby Sevens Series appearance. That improvement can only be good for the sport, and their homeland.

Brothers Lucas and Moises Dugue led by example, helping their team score two tries against favorites Fiji. The cheers from the crowd will be ringing in their ears for years to come. They need to work on their discipline though, run better lines and be more competitive at the breakdown.

 

Day Four results – Pool A

Fiji 40-12 Brazil

USA 14-17 Argentina

USA 26-0 Brazil

Fiji 21-14 Argentina

Day five of the sevens competition will be filled with heartache, as teams will progress toward the medal round. For others, there will be heartache and heartbreak. Will Brazil continue to impress? Can the South Sea Islanders continue their fairy tale run? Will the Americans bounce back?

There is everything to play for, and there are some big bragging rights at stake too. Follow all the resultsand updates of the Olympics Sevens here on Last Word On Sports.

“Main photo credit”

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