Day One Wellington Sevens: Teams Cement Their Quarter Final Places

2017 Wellington Sevens

On a day that brought delight for some, despair for others, it was clear that Day One Wellington Sevens certainly did not disappoint. Among the dressed up fans, music and entertainment on offer, on the field there was a Sevens Rugby tournament being played. And it was good. Very good.

Teams Cement Their Quarter Final Places

Day One Results

England Looking Hot For Back-To-Back Titles

The English continue their form from Cape Town, cruising in Wellington winning all their pool games. With seven players from the Silver Medalist Great Britain side at the Olympics, they look polished and hungry from the start of Day One Wellington Sevens pool play. They racked up 97 massive points, with Dan Norton in the prime of his life he and could rack up more votes toward player of the tournament.

Argentina continue to mix the old with the new. Nicolas Menendez who was outstanding at Punta Del Este Sevens during the Sudamerica Sevens circuit, continued to shine. Coach Santiago Gomez Cora wants to mold 25 players to be sevens specialist in Argentina and its looking good with all his new recruits.

Kenya will be left to rue their loss to the Pumas in Pool play which has cost them a spot in the quarters. The return of Collins Injera brought some life back into the group, with Billy Odhiambo leading well along with star try scorer Willy Ambaka.

Papua New Guinea will cherish this chance, will look at Day Two as more experience while hoping for the best in Sydney.

  • Pool A – Kenya 12 Argentina 17| England 40 Papua New Guinea 0 | Kenya 47 PNG 5 | England 26 Argentina 7 | Argentina 41 PNG 14 | England 31 Kenya 12

South Africa cruising on Day One

Unsurprisingly, South Africa carried on the fine form that has them at the top-of-the-table. 93 points, with some fine tries from Werner Kok and Seabelo Senatla. Fiji was the only team to gain any points against them. They found another speedster in Siviwe Soyizwapi (main photo) who will benefit in playing alongside Senatla; while he is still with the Blitzbok unit.

They set the tempo for the crucial game, and caught the Fijians wanting. Like a hungry African lion, they hunted as a pack and annihilated their prey. They dismantled Australia and Japan earlier in the day, before walloping Fiji (see below).

However, Day Two is where everything is determined and a wounded Fijian side is a very dangerous side. They will be back to their true ‘hunter’ instincts tomorrow.

The Aussies will learn from this weekend going into the Sydney Sevens. They did well during contact, but were in a daze when they had the ball. Needing more creativity and aggression, and more fit men to cover injury, all that must also come with a bigger ‘will to win’.

For Japan, the learning process continues. This could take them until the Asian leg, to front up but the Asian team are of constant concern, and lightning fast. Pouli Teaupa is reaping the rewards, placed well on the Performance Tracker–someone to watch, for sure.

  • Pool B – Fiji 26 Australia 12 | South Africa 33 Japan 0 | Fiji 56 Japan 0 | RSA 28 Aus 0 | Aus 33 Japan 12 | Fiji 12 RSA 31

Baptism Of Fire Awaits Kiwis in Cup Quarters

The Kiwis won Pool C and they are rewarded with a match-up against a wounded Fiji. They overcame the United States in the last game of the day, to win 24-12. They turned up the heat in the Windy City while changing few things in their game, using the width more and some huge defense to boot.

Vilimoni Koroi came to age as the 18 year old crossed over for his first-ever try against the United States. He was quickly tested straight after defensively, when he brilliantly ran from behind to stop big Martin Iosefo. The Kiwis have unearthed someone that could really fill in the vacuum left by Tomasi Cama.

And his captain Scott Curry played his part, in pulling the group together over three games to head into Day Two as one of the favorites.

Perry Baker was outstanding in Day One, especially against New Zealand. However, his forwards let him down with Danny Barrett the biggest culprit. If they can bring all the elements together on Day Two, valuable points can be gained–but you know they want to be in the Cup knockout stages.

France continued with their unpredictability and could upset South Africa in the Cup quarters. Not beyond them, it would be a huge call, but LWOR made mention of some upsets….as the French say “ce la vie.”

Samoa Need to go Back to the Drawing Board

While much was expected during Day One Wellington Sevens matches for the team from Samoa, promise was never fulfilled. Attention had been made on the new coach and his well documented career–fully deserved, of course. But Sir Gordon Tietjens will be concerned. His young group could not ‘foot it with the big boys’ and they will need more homework, certainly before they are the real deal.

  • Pool C – New Zealand 33 Samoa 7| France 21 United States 21 | USA 24 Samoa 12 | New Zealand 21 France 14 | France 28 Samoa 5 | New Zealand 24 USA 12

Canada Rocking The Cake Tin

The Canadians are playing like ‘men possessed’. They have finally found their rhythm in the new year, now with Damian McGrath at the helm. The Canucks are putting phases and plays together like never before. They surprisingly topped Pool D, with Scotland as runners up.

Adam Zaruba has been running some good lines all day, along with Harry Jones. The quick distribution of Nathan Hirayama (below) and of course the leadership of John Moonlight, has been vital in their Day One Wellington Sevens success. Full credit.

Scotland were found wanting at their own game by the Canadians. They were pushed off the park by their own ‘natural strength’ at the breakdown. The Canadians caught them out there, and so did the Russians who were unlucky not to win–losing 5-12.

Wales on the other hand have a little bit of soul searching to do. The only bright point out of the Valleys was Sam Cross. He topped the DHL Performance tracker, with plenty of offloads–unfortunately they could not convert, so they will play out the Challenge Trophy on Day Two.

  • Pool D – Wales 33 Russia 0 | Scotland 19 Canada 28 | Wales 5 Canada 28 | Scotland 12 Russia 5 | Canada 29 Russia 0 | Wales 7 Scotland 29

So after 24 matches of Day One Wellington Sevens play, we know the top sides from the bottom half. As stated, some were delighted, but it was the spectators today that received all the rewards. On a fine day, the real fans had some terrific games to enjoy from start to finish.

HSBC Sevens Series Cup Quarter Finals

England open the quarter finals action at 12:38pm, facing the Scottish men. They will be upset, so we might find a ‘band of Bravehearts’ who will not go down without a fight. That is what is needed, in all games. The steps to the semi final for each of the eight teams above will test their metal.

Challenge Trophy Quarter Finalists

Kenya v Russia | United States v Japan | Wales v Papua New Guinea | Australia v Samoa

For some of these sides, it is all too familiar. Australia especially, but the US team will be slightly disappointed. They managed to secure a vital win, only to be out-witted by France in a 21 all draw that cost them dearly, but those are the small ‘one percenters’ that are the difference.

Kenya too, although that team may have underlying issues that affect the team moral, which needs to be worked on quickly. Still, with Andrew Amonde, they have a war chest of firepower and may be ‘the Lowdown pick’ for a trophy dash!

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So the teams and fans will return for Day Two, beginning at 11:00am. It will be another fine; possibly cloudy day, so that will help with the matches. It will bring the fans out too, which is probably one factor which is noticeable across social media. Sevens fans are asking “what happened to the Wellington event?” and while LWOR know it is a struggle, we are positive that the true measure is the quality of rugby.

And on Day Two, all that will definitely be clearer to see. Good luck to all teams.

 

“Main photo credit”


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