- South Africa’s men extend winning run to 32 matches on way to semis
- Blitzboks to face Ireland, Argentina to take on Australia in last four
- Women’s favourites Australia lay down marker with 41-0 quarter-final win over Russia
- Ireland women reach Cup semi-final for only second time, men join them
- Australia to face USA, Ireland take on England in Sunday’s semis
The first ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event in Seville is poised for a spectacular conclusion after a thrilling day of action at the Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja.
In the men's event, South Africa, winner of all three Series events so far, remain the team to beat after overcoming a tough battle with Scotland to set up a semi-final clash with Ireland.
Argentina will take on Australia on the other side of the draw after coming through hard-fought quarter-finals against France and USA respectively.
In the women’s event, Malaga champions USA knocked out hosts Spain to reach the final four, where they will take on Series leaders and top seeds Australia in a mouth-watering clash.
Surprise package Ireland reached the Cup semi-finals for only the second time ever after winning all four of their games in Seville, and they are up against England next, who knocked out France.
History was made on Saturday, as Ireland celebrated the first time that they have had both men’s and women’s teams progress to the semi-finals at a Sevens Series event.
BLITZBOKS SET UP CLASH WITH IN-FORM IRELAND
Dancing feet - literally!— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) January 29, 2022
Conor Phillips celebrates with a samba as he scores the try that all-but guarantees @IrishRugby's place in the last four after Terry Kennedy creates the opportunity@DHLrugby | #ImpactMoment pic.twitter.com/U79sMuvb2G
South Africa won a 32nd consecutive match with a 31-24 quarter-final win over a gutsy Scotland side - only two short of equalling the second-longest winning run of all time, set by New Zealand in 2001-02.
Scotland captain Jamie Farndale struck first, but some superb offloading from South Africa sent Shaun Williams over the try line.
Reiss Cullen danced through the Blitzboks defence to restore the Scots’ lead, but soon after Sakoyisa Makata blew a hole through their midfield to go under the posts, and the Blitzboks then took advantage of a Ross McCann yellow card when Ryan Oosthuizen crossed in the corner.
Selvyn Davids stepped off the bench to carve a path through the Scottish defence in the second half and extend their lead, but the Scots wouldn’t back down and a virtuoso long-range effort from Kaleem Barreto made it a five-point game.
However, with the Scots one score away from a huge upset, Davids struck again to make the win safe and ensure that Jordan Edmonds’ late try was no more than a consolation.
“Super stoked with the result. We do make it difficult for ourselves at times with slow starts, letting teams have some hope,” said Oosthuizen.
“But credit to the bench, Selvyn and those guys bring the magic and they finished the game off for us.”
Ireland put in a superb performance to set up a semi-final clash with the Blitzboks, beating England 24-12 with a controlled and clinical display.
Niall Comerford and Tom Bowen exchanged tries, but the Irish were ahead at the break thanks to Tom Roche, as he profited from a sumptuous offload out of the tackle.
Mark Roche stretched over the line between two English defenders to extend Ireland’s lead after the break and punched the air in celebration after nailing the conversion too. Conor Phillips made sure of the win, with Calum Randle’s late try proving to be too little too late for England.
AUSTRALIA AND ARGENTINA FIGHT THROUGH
A strong second half performance helped Australia see off the USA, as they came from behind to score 17 unanswered points after the break and win their quarter-final clash 29-14.
Chris Kuridrani drew first blood for Australia, but the game was turned on its head when Carlin Isles showed his trademark blistering pace to draw the Eagles level and Perry Baker immediately gathered the restart to go under the posts.
Nathan Lawson glided through defenders to get Australia back in it before the break in a taste of what was to come.
Maurice Longbottom found an equally simple task of finding a gap in the USA defence to score 30 seconds after the restart, and the American resistance collapsed when Josh Turner went over in the corner and Longbottom added a late penalty to make sure of the win.
Argentina reached their fourth Cup semi-final in a row with a 26-21 win over France in an absorbing encounter full of momentum swings.
Joachim Trouabal finished off a string of French offloads to give Les Bleus an early lead, but Rodrigo Isgro struck back for Argentina before Trouabal went from hero to villain by earning a yellow card for an intentional knock-on.
Argentina immediately made the numerical advantage count as Joaquin de la Vega crossed, and Marcos Moneta powered through to give them a comfortable 21-7 lead at half time.
The French weren’t done though, even after Luciano Gonzalez managed to hold up Varian Paquet in the try area, as tries from Stephen Parez and Jordan Sepho levelled up the score.
But Argentina started to turn the screw again and the pressure eventually told when they spread the ball wide from a scrum and Franco Sabato went in at the corner.
MURPHY CROWE LIGHTS UP QUARTERS
Amee-Leigh Murphy-Crowe just keeps getting better. And better@IrishRugby sweep into the semi-finals, with the electric Murphy-Crowe grabbing a hat-trick along the way! #HSBC7s | #Spain7s pic.twitter.com/44SmPV0sde— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) January 29, 2022
Hat-trick hero Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe put in a masterclass as Ireland earned a commanding 36-12 win over Canada to surge into their second ever Cup semi-final, and their first since Sydney 2019.
After finishing as pool winners for the first time and putting together a five-game winning streak that was the longest in their history, Ireland’s momentum continued with a superb quarter-final performance lit up by their star player Murphy Crowe.
Murphy Crowe scored three tries and set up another two, with Eve Higgins getting a double and Lucy Mulhall crossing, in a one-sided encounter, while Elissa Alarie and Olivia Apps got on the board for Canada with late consolation scores.
“It’s not me who does all the hard work in the middle of the field to get me over the line. This team works so hard,” Murphy Crowe said.
“Our team back at home work even harder to put us in this position. For the girls to get me over the line, it’s amazing. We’re just going to play our game tomorrow and bring Irish rugby to the semis.”
Ireland will face England in the last four, after the English upset the odds by knocking out second seeds France in the second quarter-final with a 21-12 win, helped by an inspired performance from Megan Jones.
Jones made the breakthrough by getting over the line after a tight opening, but France, who defeated top seeds Australia in the pool stage, drew level on the brink of half time after shifting the ball wide for Valentine Lothoz to cross.
Emma Uren burst through the French defence to restore England’s lead, which Jones soon added to after some fantastic footwork, and Lou Noel’s surging run down the right wing wasn’t enough to get Les Bleues back in it.
USA IMPRESS AGAIN AS AUSTRALIA GET REVENGE
Malaga champions USA remain on course for another Cup win after defeating hosts Spain in the quarter-finals, clinching a 15-0 win.
Kris Thomas got the Eagles off to a dream start, catching the kick-off and sprinting over the try line, and Jaz Gray bagged her fifth try of the weekend before the break to give her side a ten-point cushion.
Speedster Gray, who caught the eye with a hat-trick against Portugal on day one, showed her electric pace once again to score her second of the game in the final minute and put the result beyond doubt.
Their next opponents Australia were out for revenge against Russia in the quarter-finals, after losing this fixture at the semi-final stage in Malaga, and they soon left no doubt about who would come out on top in a clinical 41-0 win.
Sharni Williams picked great lines to cross the whitewash twice in the first half, and Alysia Felau-Fakaosilea added a third Australian try before the break.
Madison Ashby, Teagan Levi, Dominique Du Toit and Charlotte Caslick got in on the try-scoring action after the break to complete a ruthless performance from the Series leaders.
MONETA MAGIC AND PENALTY TRY DRAMA
Favourites South Africa didn’t feature on day one after getting a bye for their game against Samoa, who didn’t travel to Seville.
But the Bltizboks were worth the wait and continued their imperious form in the pool stage thanks to two commanding second half performances that helped them beat Spain 33-12 and USA 24-19.
Selvyn Davids stepped off the bench to score two tries against the hosts, who finished third in Pool A, while a Shaun Williams double proved enough to clinch victory over runners-up USA in a repeat of November’s Dubai final.
In Pool B, Argentina’s Men’s Sevens Player of the Year Moneta provided some dazzling skill by kicking a neat grubber, collecting it himself and sprinting clear to settle a 19-12 win over Ireland that decided top spot.
Both sides had earlier recorded big wins, Ireland beating Jamaica 22-0 and Argentina beating Germany 33-0, but the Germans finished on a high with a commanding 40-5 victory over Jamaica to finish third.
Victories for France and England over Japan and Wales respectively set up a direct clash for first place in Pool C, and the English took it in dramatic style as a penalty try was awarded for a shove with the clock in the red, as the game ended 24-17.
Japan ran in four tries to beat Wales to third place with an impressive 26-5 victory in their head-to-head clash.
A first half double from Corey Toole put Australia on course for a 19-7 win over Scotland in their opening game of the day, and they backed it up with a 35-12 victory over Canada to top Pool D with a flawless record.
The Scots, who defeated Canada on the opening day, took second place thanks to an engrossing 19-7 win over Kenya in a winner-takes-all clash.
IRELAND IMPRESS AND FRANCE STUN AUSTRALIA
Malaga champions USA continued their superb recent form by beating Canada 14-7 to clinch top spot in Pool A with a perfect three wins from three.
England took second place as they ran in eight tries in a thumping 46-0 win over debutants Portugal, with Ellie Boatman crossing the whitewash four times, Heather Cowell bagging a hat-trick and Abbie Brown getting also getting in on the try-scoring action.
Ireland earned a dramatic last-gasp 21-14 win over Malaga runners-up Russia to top Pool B, as Kate Farrell McCabe sprinted clear in the final play to score her first try for her country and leave the Irish with a perfect record in the pool stage.
There was another surprise in Pool C, where Series leaders and top seeds Australia lost 12-10 to France as Chloe Pelle scored her 50th Series try to help Les Bleues to a memorable victory.
Russia and Australia progressed as the runners-up in their respective pools despite their defeats, while Spain’s 29-0 win over Belgium was enough to secure them a place in the quarter-finals as one of the best third-placed teams, alongside Canada.
Brazil edged Poland 17-15 in a knife-edge battle for third place in Pool B, but the Brazilians were unlucky to miss out on a spot on the last eight by one point on points difference.
DAY THREE PREVIEW
Play begins at 09:00 local time on Sunday, with a series of placement matches taking place in both the women’s and the men’s competition.
A place in the Cup final is on the line when Ireland face England in the first last four clash of the day at 15:22, and top seeds Australia’s semi-final clash with USA follows at 15:44.
The men’s Cup semis are next up, with South Africa facing Ireland at 16:06 before the other finalist is decided when Australia and Argentina clash at 16:28.
More placement matches follow, before the bronze finals start with the women’s competition at 19:07, the men’s version taking place at 19:29.
The action rounds off with the showcase events, with the women’s Cup final at 19:56 and the men’s Cup final at 20:26.