The Singapore Sevens opened on Day One with some mouth-watering performances especially from the underdogs, the French, the Argentinians who defeated the Aussies and the Samoans who repeated their feat from Las Vegas. Lest we forget the Japanese who beat the Welsh, held the Los Pumas and scared the Aussies.
The 52,000 seat National Stadium welcomed the 16 participating nations with open arms as they try to cement their place as one of the memorable venues of the HSBC World Sevens Series. With five points separating the top two in the Series points table, a point between the second and third, competition in Singapore was shaping up really well between the pacesetters.
The French defeated the Kiwis for the first time in 11 years thanks largely to the man from the hills of Naitasiri in Fiji, Virimi Vakatawa. They didn’t contain him, allowed him to move freely and he was on fire to help his French side to a 24-0 victory over their old XV’s foes. It’s the second time this season that the boys from the Land of the Long White Clouds have been held scoreless. (the Kenyans defeated them 22-0 in Las Vegas). We can all agree Day One belonged to Virimi Vakatawa and his Leus Bleus side.
Singapore Sevens: Day One: THE LOWDOWN
Pool A (Fiji, England, Samoa, Portugal)
Fiji survived an English onslaught in their last game to book their spot in the Cup quarters against Australia 26-12. It was a hard fought battle between the Fijians and their colonial rulers but the Islanders escaped from the brink of their second trip down to the Bowl competition in the history of the World Sevens Series.
The Samoans will feature in the Cup quarters against Argentina and will try to finish high as they continue to find form and build that combination for their ultimate goal the Rio Olympics qualification. They are peaking at the right time and will be battle ready in Monaco.
Fiji scored it’s 200th World Series try of the season when Emosi Mulevoro crossed over against Portugal, they have set the bar high and other teams will try to chase that down. Kitione Taliga and Jasa Veremalua spearheaded Fiji’s effort against England in the last game of the day and will be the go to men come tomorrow.
Portugal have a huge task tomorrow as they try to finish as high as they can in the bottom half of the tournament and gain more points then the Russians to keep their hopes alive for a return to next season’s World Sevens Series.
Fiji 14-28 Samoa, England 14-7 Portugal, Fiji 38-0 Portugal, England 12-5 Samoa, Samoa 28-12 Portugal, Fiji 26-12 England
Pool B (New Zealand, USA, France, Canada)
The Leus Bleus, after beating the Kiwis in their opening game. went on to defeat the two North Americans team in their pool to win Pool B outright ahead of the Kiwis who accounted for the North American sides that embarrassed them in Cape Town, South Africa.
Liam Messam rallied his troops to fight hard and get them through to another Cup quarter final and send the North American sides to the bottom half of the tournament. The Americans really look lost and will do more to defend their title in London in May.
The Kiwis survived a late comeback from the Americans to win 19-12. The Americans would’ve won the game if their passes went to hand but silly handling errors and basic mistakes cost them dearly.
Canada will rue their chances again this week and will have to dig deep to finish high on Day Two. It is inconsistency that’s costing them games and they really miss the presence of Nanyak Dala who has been missing since Cape Town. They need his leadership, his work rate in the breakdown and defensive skills that win turnovers for the Canadians.
New Zealand o-24 France, USA 36-14 Canada, New Zealand 24 Canada 17, USA 17 France 19, France 26 Canada 19, New Zealand 19-12 USA
Pool C (South Africa, Kenya, Scotland, Russia)
South Africa survived the curse of day one in Singapore to go through undefeated but the team that really tested their mettle was the Russians, who led 10-nil for most part of the game only for the Blitzboks to come back and defeat them 21-10.
Seabelo Senatla was on fire for the South Africans and will rely on his experience with other senior players to win their second tournament of the season.
Kenya join South Africa in the quarters even though they lost 14-0 to the Blitzboks, they drew 12-all with Scotland but the 33-0 thrashing that the Blitzboks gave to the Scots was enough to put Kenya through.
South Africa 33-0 Scotland, Kenya 21-7 Russia, South Africa 21-10 Russia, Kenya 12-12 Scotland, South Africa 14-0 Kenya, Scotland 36-17 Russia
Pool D (Australia, Wales, Argentina, Japan)
The Aussie Thunderbolts will join the Los Pumas in the Cup quarters after winning their last two games to keep their fight for a good finish in Singapore alive, even without most of their stars. James Stannard will have to lead his young brigade with vigor as they chase there first win of the season.
The Japanese started well against the Welsh and took the Aussies to the wire to show the world what the Japanese are capable of and should be wary of come next season, they are here to stay with captain Katyasuki Sakai, Lote Tuqiri, Kameli Soejima and Lomano Lemeki leading the charge.
A gallant try on the death from Lote Tuqiri brought the scores 21-all against Argentina and from the restart the Japanese lost possession to lose their chances of qualifying for the Cup quarters too but a very gallant effort from them on Day One of the Singapore Sevens.
The Welsh lost the plot in Singapore and will have to regain their composure and finish on a high on finals day as they lost all their games on the opening day. Maybe the pressure of playing at the highest level in Hong Kong has taken it’s toll on them but they will learn from this.
Australia 7-12 Argentina, Wales 19-26 Japan, Australia 17-12 Japan, Wales 21-42 Argentina, Argentina 21-21 Japan, Australia 31-12 Wales.
Bowl Quarter Finals:
England vs Wales
Scotland vs Canada
Japan vs Portugal
USA vs Russia
Cup Quarter Finals:
Fiji vs Australia
South Africa vs New Zealand
Argentina vs Samoa
France vs Kenya
What a performance by the underdogs this weekend, three teams from the quarter finals lineup last week in Hong Kong, England, Wales, USA have all dropped down to the Bowl competition and replacing them are the giant killers France, the unpredictable Los Pumas and the Samoans who all want to prove their worth tomorrow, the stage is set, follow how the drama unfolds at the National Stadium in Singapore. Can a underdog team win it? or will the Fijians win their first ever back-to-back title?
Follow all THE LOWDOWN of the Singapore Sevens here on Last Word On Sports.