Vancouver Sevens: All Blacks stunned by Spain but still reach play-offs

Posted by Nazvi Careem (from World Rugby press release)

Spain beat New Zealand for the first time in their history but their 26-24 victory in Pool C was not enough to qualify for the quarter-finals as the All Blacks topped the group to advance to the play-offs.

New Zealand had led 12-0 through Joe Ravouvou and Andrew Knewstubb but Spain hit back, Ignacio Rodriguez-Guerra doing down in the corner before captain Francisco Hernandez put his side ahead at the break. Joan Losada’s try was cancelled out by Ravouvou and Sam Dickson, but after the hooter, Losada broke down the left wing and found Pol Pla on the inside to seal a famous victory.

New Zealand, having earlier cruised past France 45-7 with seven tries all scored by different players, needed to beat Australia to reach the Cup quarter-finals. Ravouvou’s pair of tries either side of half-time alongside scores from Dickson, Tim Mikkelson, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black and Vilimoni Koroi ensured their spot in a 36-12 win, topping Pool C in the process.

World Series leaders USA must settle for second in Pool A after losing the day’s final match to South Africa. JC Pretorius scored two tries with Stedman Gans’ score in between times proving their dominance and setting up a Cup quarter-final with Argentina. USA had most of possession but South Africa’s imperious defence ensured they conceded just one try, Steve Tomasin going over in the second half.

The Blitzbokke cruised past Chile with Pretorius, Siviwe Soyizwapi and Selvyn Davids all scoring two tries each. They fell behind to Wales after just a minute but captain Philip Snyman, Davids and Pretorius all hit back to beat the British side. USA had found it easier going against Wales with Carlin Isles scoring a hat-trick in a six-try victory.

Invitational side Chile fought admirably against USA (19-33) and Wales (12-19) but finished bottom of Pool A with three defeats. The South American champions led their North American counterparts 19-7 at half-time, Benjamin De Vidts twice beating speedster Isles on the outside with Rodrigo Fernandez also crossing the whitewash. But Isles hit back with a double of his own as USA emerged victorious.

It was a day of upsets at a sold-out BC Place. Earlier, France had come from behind to take down Australia. Henry Hutchison put Australia ahead before Les Blues missed two opportunities to score, with Samuel Alerte dropping the ball on the try line and Stephen Parez being set through with a forward pass. But Pierre Gilles Lakafia, Pierre Mignot and Remi Siega all dotted down to claim victory.

France joined New Zealand in the Cup quarter-finals with a 26-10 win against Spain, consigning their fellow Europeans to the Challenge Trophy.

In the day’s other surprise, reigning Canadian champions Fiji were downed by the hosts 26-19. Matt Mullins and Connor Braid helped put Canada 12-0 ahead before Terio Veilawa and Sevuloni Mocenacagi drew Fiji level. An exchange of tries took the score to 19-19 before Nathan Hirayama skipped through the defence and allowed Harry Jones to dot down and secure Canada’s fifth win over Fiji in 52 attempts.

Fiji needed to beat Samoa in their final match to reach the Cup quarter-finals, ultimately claiming a 31-17 win. Jerry Tuwai and Veilawa scored second-half tries to put the game out of Samoa’s reach, having earlier put six tries past Kenya. Their reward is a clash with New Zealand tomorrow.

Their spot in tomorrow’s quarter-finals came at the expense of Canada, who missed out with an inferior points difference. Connor Braid’s hat-trick helped them beat Kenya but the 36-21 scoreline wasn’t enough to earn a top-two place.

Samoa had earlier cruised past Canada, running in six tries as they downed the hosts 38-7. A pair of tries each for Joe Perez and Alamanda Motuga helped them breeze past Kenya as Samoa topped Pool C. They will play France in the fourth quarter-final tomorrow.

England topped Pool D with three wins from three, clinching a quarter-final against USA with a 33-14 win against Argentina. Tom Bowen scored the pick of England’s five tries, created by Harry Glover’s casual no-look offload out of the back of the hand to the wing. A 21-7 win against Scotland in the day’s opening match and Ryan Olowofela’s double against Japan set up England’s perfect record.

Los Pumas Sevens join them in the quarter-finals, racking up nine tries against Japan and Scotland to set up the decider for top spot.

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