In a tournament full of upsets, as the gold went to Canada at the HSBC Singapore Sevens. It was a victory well worth the wait, as the Canadian men took out their maiden tournament win as others fell around them.
This fact will be the major talking point of the HSBC Singapore Sevens event. Both the sevens series leader South Africa and second placed Fiji were the big losers on Day Two. Dropping out of the cup knockout stages early, it will have shaken both their respective groups. Expect reprisals between Singapore and the next round of the World Series, as each tries to repair the holes found in their game..
The above images show the sheer joy that Canada and their supporters will feel tonight. It has been a long wait, but they can now stand among tournament victors. Like Kenya in 2016, they break their duck after 140 tournaments. And while the plaudits go to Canada, it was a huge step up as well for the United States who reached the Cup final.
This is a much improved performance over the Hong Kong result, so Mike Friday will feel his men have progressed–although Canada will be celebrating out for weeks on this win (so they deserve a few celebratory drinks tonight).
Day Two: The LOWDOWN
Canada 26 United States 19
Damian McGrath has certainly found his place with the Maple Leafs, and with the huge result this weekend it will be felt right through rugby in Canada. Thier development in both men’s and women’s sevens series is fabulous for the nation. Social media activity before the match was very positive, and it was reflected in the match outcome.
With Matt Mullins and then Harry Jones scoring inside three minutes, it was an almost perfect start. That was made even better, when Mike Fualeifau scored to head out to an impressive 19-0 start. Incredible, it caught the US team napping, and it required a powerful response.
Team USA did that, with Perry Baker first, followed by Stephen Tomasin. It showed that the US Eagles had some fight in them and at the break, the 19-12 scoreline had the crowd buzzing.
Close Finish Between North American Sides
Whatever Friday said at halftime worked, as the ‘speedstick’ Baker rushed over to gain an immediate change in the lead. Great work, and they now put in place the defense which helped them slam Fiji at the quarter final.
It was working for much of the second half too, before this neck-and-neck match was turned around on the actions of Lucas Hammond. His quick reactions were the perfect way to break the game open, and Nathan Hirayama topped his ‘perfect weekend’ with the conversion that led to amazing scenes. The bench cleared amid wild celebrations.
And well deserved.
DHL Player of the Final – Nathan Hirayama
England Settles For Bronze Medal
England will have to settle for a third placed finish, after holding off the Australians in a tight scoring game, 14-12. Both sides scored two tries, but it was the conversion success of William Edwards.
The Aussie side had come so far, and while falling short, they can be very proud of the opening result of the day. It might have taken a lot out of them, where England managed to capitalize on the few chances available.
Fifth Spot Taken by New Zealand
Not exactly where they planned on finishing, but the Kiwi team make fifth place theirs [again]. Defeating South Africa is the real achievement, as the Bltzbok went down 17-12. They conceded yet more tries, which coach Neil Powell will be unhappy with. The Kiwis will feel that their combinations have improved, with Beaudein Waaka and Lewis Ormond adding plenty.
Each side had their failings, with the Kiwis run down early by Canada, so the ability to recover is of benefit. New Zealand overcame Kenya at the semi final stage at the final hooter 24-21. South Africa had their revenge over a six man Fiji earlier in the fifth place semi finals 19-14, to book their spot in the play off.
It was a gallant effort from the South Sea Islanders to be playing with six men for 10 minutes, to only lose by five points. Isake Katonibau was red carded for a swinging arm in that game, to realistically open the doors for South Africa.
The Fijians found themselves in this position, because they did not open the day in a positive mood. They fell off their tackles in the quarters which cost them the game against United States losing 19-24.
Opening Day Two Matches Count for Much, on Day of Upsets
South Africa had a bad start, piped in the final second of their quarter finals match against Australia. It was a special offload from young Liam McNamara (see above picture) that found another rookie Lachie Anderson, to sprint in under the post and seal the victory 19-17.
England was the last of the big boys left standing but they overcame Kenya 13-12 no thanks to young referee Craig Evans who overlooked James Rodwell’s early tackle. While calls come and go, the result put the English on a path above their series leading contenders.
Cup quarter finals results: Fiji 19 USA 24 | Australia 19 South Africa 17 | New Zealand 14 Canada 26 | England 13 Kenya 12
Wales finish the weekend holding up the trophy, defeating their United Kingdom neighbours Scotland 24-12. It was a a reward for some good passion, and for their superstar, in James Fleming. He bagged two tries, to continue his rise to the top ranks of finishers in the sevens series.
While Scotland may not feel as satisfied, their team members are certainly hard workers. Mark Robertson scored his 100th try in the series, and helped his side overcome France 31-12 in the semifinals. On the other hand, the Welsh side just piped the Samoans 19-14 to book their final spot, so also proved their status.
Samoa are showing slight improvements but need to bring in that aggression that defied their game. France had a good outing in spite of the all injury toll in the squad. They look good heading home to the Paris Sevens in May.
Challenge Trophy quarter finals results: Hong Kong 15 Scotland 26 | Argentina 24 France 26 | Wales 19 Russia 12 | Japan 14 Samoa 26
Minor Placings Taken by Argentina
Argentina were successful in winning 40-19 over the Russians. 13th place is not where they would have planned to be. In the semifinals, Argentina overwhelmed the invitational side Hong Kong to win 33-7. While those results are favourable but nothing to be satisfied with, Los Pumas must put their finger on the button to make vast improvements. It was a disappointing tour for the Argentinians here on the Asian leg of the series, and they will need more soul searching heading to Europe.
On the other hand, the Russians proceeded to this stage and importantly sustained the Japanese pressure to edge them 24-21 earlier in the day. It gives them a slight edge, as the Japanese need to bring back the big guns in the final two rounds to stand any chance of overcoming the Russians higher place on the ladder. They need more points to secure their Core-Status spot.
HSBC Singapore Sevens Honorary Accolades
While the upsets occurred across both sides of the tournament, the performances were still high quality. So while the recognition and the gold matches the outcome, there were plenty of great individuals to select from.
DHL Impact Player of the Tournament
Notable mention for Simon Kennewell, who really earned the LWOR ‘most improved player’ award, with his power on Day One. That was also enough to give him a place in the votes for the ‘Dream Team’.
World Sevens Series Table
This weekend had a small impact on the standings, with England reversing a 32 point deficit, to now be 27. It might not be a huge change, but with the South Africans falling yet again, and the Fijians unable to go back-to-back, how it impacts on the following rounds will be seen in Paris.
So the sides will take a break of three weeks before the Paris Sevens on May 13. A good period to work on many issues for the leading sides. The North American sides will be most pleased, and for every player now recovery is key.
Some poor results tonight could have been the conditions, so the less humid weather in Europe could lead to more consistency in performance. The draw has already been made, so sides will rest briefly before refocusing on the last leg of the season.
Last Word On Rugby will look forward to bringing you the final two rounds of the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
“Main photo credit”