Tokyo Sevens: Japan impress to reach cup quarter-finals
Fiji and South Africa go into day two with a 100 per cent record as hosts reach the cup stages for the first time in 15 years
Hosts Japan reached the cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2000 on a thrilling first day of the Tokyo Sevens.
The Brave Blossoms began their Pool D campaign with a 14-14 draw with Argentina before defeating Samoa 26-15, and can count themselves unlucky to lose to France 24-19 in their final match with Lomano Lemeki starring in an expansive game for Japan, but it was still enough for them to earn a cup quarter-final against HSBC Sevens World Series leaders Fiji.
Les Bleus blew a 12-0 half-time lead against Samoa in their opening match as converted tries from Siaosi Asofolau and Greg Lealofi gave the Pacific Islanders a 14-12 win, but they hit back with a 17-7 win over Argentina in the second match, and their win over Japan, coupled with a 26-26 draw between Samoa and Argentina was enough to see them through.
Fiji, the defending champions in Tokyo, began the defence of their title with a hard-fought 19-10 win over Wales to kick of the day at the Prince Chichibu Stadium with Samisoni Viriviri, Osea Kolinisau and Savenaca Rawaca running in scores.
The Pacific Islanders followed that up with a commanding 35-14 win over Hong Kong as Amenoni Nasilasila scored a double, and Ben Ryan’s men were equally ruthless in their final match as Kunatani (pictured below) and Vatemo Ravouvou both grabbed a brace en route to defeating England 33-19 in the pool decider to take a 100 per cent record into day two.
Despite their mauling from Fiji, Simon Amor’s England also reached the cup quarter-finals thanks to their 10-7 win over Wales and comfortable 33-0 win over Hong Kong in a game that saw Marcus Watson and Tom Bowen score first half tries, before a second-half double from Dan Norton and a score from James Rodwell glossed the win.
World Series contenders South Africa are the only other unbeaten side going into day two as they emerged from Pool C with a 100 per cent record with ruthless wins over Canada, USA and Kenya.
The Blitzbokke opened their account with a 29-7 win over Canada with Seabelo Senatla grabbing a hat-trick.
They were equally emphatic winners over USA with Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika, Werner Kok and Ruhan Nel all going over in a 24-15 win.
Despite defeats to South Africa and the USA, with Eagles speedster Carlin Isles scoring a hat-trick, Canada progressed to the quarter-finals, on points difference with a 26-10 win over Kenya, who stunned the USA 22-14, in their final pool match with two tries from Ciaran Hearn and one each for Justin Douglas and Conor Trainor.
Defending World Series champions New Zealand also reached the last eight of the cup, despite an eighth defeat in 61 matches to rivals Australia in their final match of Pool B as Con Foley, Greg Jeloudev and Cameron Clark for a 19-14 win.
The All Blacks began their day with a thumping six-try 38-0, including a brace for veteran Tim Mikkelson and a score for Joe Webber (pictured below), as Scotland produced a missed tackles masterclass, while Portugal produced the upset of the weekend with a 12-10 win over Australia.
Sir Gordon Tietjens’ champions followed that up with an equally comfortable 26-7 win over Portugal, as Callum MacRae’s Scots stunned Australia with a 17-14 win through converted tries from Colin Gregor and James Johnstone, with a penalty from former captain Gregor making the difference.
And Scotland booked their place in the cup quarter-finals as tries from Fraser Lyle and a brace for Damien Hoyland gave them a 17-12 win over Portugal.
Day Two Quarter-Finals
Wales vs Argentina
Kenya vs Australia
Samoa vs Hong Kong
Portugal vs USA
Fiji vs Japan
South Africa vs Scotland
France vs England
New Zealand vs Canada