After four quarterfinal rounds of sevens rugby in less than ideal conditions, the battle for the cup has come down to four teams: New Zealand taking on England and South Africa taking on Fiji.
Samoa looked like early favourites to take out their Quarter Final, but three solid tries from the English boys courtesy of Marcus Watson and Phil Burgess proved too much for the Pacific Warriors. Likewise, the Canadians couldn’t match the strength and experience of New Zealand in their game, with Gilles Kaka and Scott Curry amongst the try scorers who ultimately took the game 22 – 0. The Canadians threw everything they had at the game but just couldn’t seem to broach the Kiwi defence.
Wellington Sevens: And Then There Were Four
By far one of the most evenly matched games in this Quarter Final series was Australia taking on the boys from South Africa. Both traded blows, but neither could land the killer punch in the first half, as the teams sat deadlocked nil all. It wasn’t until the second minute of the second half that Cecil Afrika, following a beautiful pass out wide from a grinding South African attack, finally crossed the line, to be joined three minutes later by Werner Kok. The South Africans may not have scored the most attractive victory, but perhaps the most determined.
Fiji came out hard in their game against Argentina, with Emosi Mulevoro and Samisoni Viriviri punching across the line early in the first half. The Argentinians looked solid on attack but the Fijians simply could not be denied. It didn’t seem to matter if the Argentinians attacked out wide or up the middle, the Fijians had an answer, it was only a slip infield that gave Gaston Revol his try midway through the second half to get the Argentinians on the board.
South Africa are now faced with the unenviable task of trying to quell the growing beast that is Fiji. In simple terms if Blitzbokke plays against Fiji the way they played against Australia they are going to be demolished. I don’t know if they were holding back against Australia and biding their time, but this does not look like the South Africa that stood so string in Las Vegas and South Africa. If they give Fiji even the slightest sniff of the ball they are going to find themselves absolutely punished by the speed and strength Fiji brings to the game.
As to the New Zealand game against England, I’d be hard pressed to bet against my home nation in this one. England though will not be easily repelled, the Kiwis will have to fight if they want to make the finals. The semis will be kicking off at 18:35 New Zealand time (12:35am EST) and will no doubt bring some of the biggest and most vocal support of the whole weekend.
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Main Photo Credit: Martin Seras Limas via IRB.com used with permission