- England, South Africa, Ireland, Argentina, USA and France qualify for men’s Cup quarter-finals
- Germany hold third-seed Australia to 12-12 draw
- Perry Baker marks 50th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event with a try
- France’s Jordan Sepho scores five tries in two matches
- Australia, France, Russia and USA book their place in women’s Cup quarter-finals
- Alena Tiron scores her 100th Series try
Stadium Ciudad de Malaga welcomed the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to Spain for the first time as the 2022 season continued in style.
Current men’s and women’s Series pace-setters South Africa and Australia remain on course for a third tournament win of the campaign following a day of thrills at the HSBC Spain Sevens.
The Blitzboks made sure of their place in the Cup quarter-finals and are one of seven unbeaten men’s teams heading into day two. Third seeds Australia are another of those, although they were held to a 12-12 draw by an impressive performance from invitational side Germany.
Top women’s seeds Australia needed to dig deep to beat Ireland at the end of day one but finished Friday as one of four unbeaten women’s sides. With four Cup quarter-finals places still up for grabs, there is plenty to play for on day two.
Series leaders South Africa, England lead Pool A
South Africa have set the pace on the Series so far with back-to-back wins in Dubai. However, the Blitzboks found themselves 7-0 down at half-time of their opener in Malaga against Scotland.
Zain Davids, Selvyn Davids (twice), captain Siviwe Soyizwapi and Christie Grobbelaar all crossed the whitewash in the second half, though, as South Africa turned on the style to win 27-7.
Due to Fiji’s withdrawal from the tournament, England, Scotland and South Africa were each awarded three points for the games they would have played against them. That meant the Scots needed to win their second match on day one.
However, despite taking a 12-0 lead in the first half it was England who won that match 24-17, as Jamie Adamson, skipper Alex Davis (twice) and Blake Boyland touched down to ensure their side kept pace with the Blitzboks at the top of Pool A.
Germany stun Australia as Ireland take control of Pool B
Ireland played Japan twice in Dubai last year without conceding a try, but they fell behind early in the sides’ opening match in Malaga as Taiga Ishida scored. However, Ireland recovered and ran in 19 unanswered points in the second half to secure a 33-14 victory.
The Irish followed that up with a 24-7 defeat of a spirited Germany team, thanks in no small part to two Teddy Kennedy tries, to end day one top of Pool B.
Earlier on the Spanish coast, Germany had produced arguably the result of the day as they held third-seeds Australia to a 12-12 draw.
The last time the teams met Australia won 50-0 but having kept the match scoreless at half-time, the Germans twice recovered from conceding to Nathan Lawson and scored with the last play of the game through Tim Lichtenberg.
Fabian Heimpel’s conversion confirmed a famous result, which keeps Germany in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.
They will round off their Pool B campaign against Japan, who lost 42-0 to Australia later on Friday. Victory ensured the third seeds finished the day second in the pool behind Ireland.
Argentina and USA book last-eight spots
USA star Perry Baker led his team out ahead of their opening Pool C match against Spain on Friday as he made his first appearance at his 50th Series event.
Baker marked that milestone with his 211th career Series try as the USA gained some revenge on the hosts, who had beaten them in Dubai, with a 19-14 win.
The USA then made sure of their place in the Cup quarter-finals as Kevon Williams scored three of his side’s seven tries during their 47-0 win against Jamaica.
Invitational side Jamaica were a late call-up for Malaga, replacing Samoa, but they made a strong start to their campaign in Spain, scoring first and trailing just 10-7 at half-time of their opening match against Argentina.
But the South Americans proved too strong in the second-half, running out 31-7 winners. And the second seeds brought an end to a stunning day of sevens with an impressive 40-12 defeat of hosts Spain.
Fantastic France cut loose in Pool D
Jordan Sepho and Nelson Epee were the stars as France cruised through to the men’s quarter-finals on day one with big wins against Wales and Canada.
Sepho helped himself to five tries – including a hat-trick against Wales – while Epee scored four as Les Bleus beat the Welsh 38-10 and Canada 38-5 to put themselves firmly in control at the top of Pool D.
Wales and Canada, who face each other on Saturday, can both join France in the last eight after they each beat Kenya on day one.
Canada came from 5-0 to build a 19-5 lead in their opening match against Kenya and withstood a fight back from the African side to close it out 19-17.
Kenya again scored the first try of their second match but Morgan Williams (twice) and Tom Brown crossed the whitewash to secure a 19-14 victory for Wales and ensure the Shujaa finished day one winless.
Australia, USA, Russia and France set the pace in the women’s tournament
Brazil’s Andressa Alves scored the first ever Series try in Spain, but it was Russia who won the opener as they made light of their numerical disadvantage to secure a 15-10 victory in Pool C of the women’s tournament.
Russia could pick from only nine available players in Malaga. However, they were too strong for the Brazilians as Daria Noritsina, Alena Tiron – her 100th Series try – and Baizat Khamidova crossed the whitewash.
Khamidova was the star of Russia’s second match on day one as she scored her side’s first and last tries in a 24-14 defeat of England that booked their place in the Cup quarter-finals.
Heading into day two, it is France who lead Pool C on points difference from the Russians. Les Bleues got their campaign underway with an impressive 33-17 win against England, in which Coralie Bertrand and Séraphine Okemba starred.
Joanna Grisez scored a hat-trick to help Les Bleues beat Brazil 33-7 in the afternoon and secure their passage to the last eight. They play Russia on Saturday morning, with the winners taking top spot.
Due to the Fijiana’s withdrawal, there were only two matches played in Pool B on day one. Both involved the USA, who beat Canada and debutants Poland to book their place in the quarter-finals.
The USA ran in four tries against their North American rivals to kick off the day in style before Cheta Emba scored twice against Poland to take her tally in Malaga to three and help secure a 31-7 win for her side.
Poland take on Canada on day two with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, and they can take heart from their performance against the USA, in which Malgorzata Koldej scored the country’s first ever Series try.
Hosts Spain remain in contention for a place in the women’s Cup quarter-finals after they ended day one with a 26-19 defeat of Belgium.
Spain lost their first ever home Series match as Beibhinn Parsons, Stacey Flood and Eve Higgins scored to give Ireland a 21-5 win in Pool A.
But the home side responded in good fashion under the floodlights as Anne Fernández de Corres scored two of Spain’s four tries against the debutants.
The hosts will take on Australia on Saturday morning needing a victory to sure of advancing. The Series leaders looked in good shape on day one as they bid to continue their perfect start to the new season.
Tim Walsh won his first match back as Australia coach, 40-5 against Belgium, and the Rio 2016 Olympic champions rounded off day one with a hard-fought 17-12 defeat of Ireland
Day two preview
The action continues in Malaga on Saturday as pool play is concluded in both the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Day two will get underway at 09:00 local time (GMT +1) when Brazil take on England at Stadium Ciudad de Malaga and both teams need a win to have a chance of reaching the women’s Cup quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed finishers.
France and Russia battle it out for top spot in Pool C after that before debutants Poland take on Canada with second place in Pool B at stake.
Ireland then take on Belgium at 10:28 local time, while the women’s pool stage action will conclude when hosts Spain take on Series leaders Australia.
Canada and Wales will kick-off the men’s action at 11:27 local time (GMT +1) with the winner booking their place in the Cup quarter-finals. Unbeaten Pool D rivals France then take on Kenya hoping to make sure of top spot.
Pool B is next up as winless Germany and Japan meet in Malaga before Australia take on Ireland hoping to leapfrog their opponents at the top of the pool.
Men’s top seeds South Africa play England at 13:17 local time with the winner of that match securing top spot in Pool A ahead of the Cup quarter-finals.
Hosts Spain then round off their Pool C campaign against invitational side Jamaica before Argentina and the USA put their unbeaten starts on the line.
The women’s Cup quarter-finals get underway at 14:53 local time (GMT +1) when the USA take on the best third-placed team.
Men’s placing matches will take place from 17:20 local time before Cup quarter-finals begin at 19:07 local time.