x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Argentina stamp class over Wales

The first major arm wrestle of the World Cup Sevens went the way of in-form Argentina, who arrived in Dubai buoyant after winning the last of the IRB tournaments in California last month.

Zimbabwe's Wensley Mbanje, right, tries to tackle Argentina's Haracio San Martin.
Zimbabwe's Wensley Mbanje, right, tries to tackle Argentina's Haracio San Martin.

DUBAI // The first major arm wrestle of the World Cup Sevens went the way of in-form Argentina, who arrived in Dubai buoyant after winning the last of the IRB tournaments in California last month. The South Americans took on Wales in a fight for the automatic qualifying position for today's quarter-finals from Pool F and emerged as comfortable 14-0 winners courtesy of a try in each half by Pablo Gomez Cora and Gonzalo Comacho.

Both teams had entered their final group match, which was staged on the less-than-appropriate setting of Pitch Two, having recorded emphatic victories in their previous ties against Zimbabwe and Uruguay. Wales rattled off enough points in those two wins to be assured of one of the two quarter-final places as the best runners-up after their points difference was reduced from 53 to 39 by the Argentina defeat. Another group decider swiftly followed in the main arena and France were left to sweat on their immediate future after being routed by Fiji.

The latter stormed through Pool B with a concluding 33-5 success after earlier accounting for the United States and Georgia. Australia had been sweating about an embarrassing elimination much earlier in the day after underestimating the resilience of an Ireland team, who had been soundly thrashed in their opening Pool D match by Samoa. The Irish rapidly swept into a 17-0 lead and even though the Australians fought back powerfully with three converted tries, they were distraught to see Gary Brown galloping through their defence in the dying seconds for a try that clinched a 24-21 verdict.

That left the Australians needing to beat a powerful Samoa outfit by a handsome margin in their final fixture to survive and that was never on as the South Sea Islanders proved much superior, running in tries by Uale Mai, Ofisa Treviranus and Morgan Salesa without reply in a tremendous 19-0 win. England's hopes of a high quarter-final seeding were given a massive dent by Tunisia. The unheralded team could have pulled off a shock win against one of the tournament's favourites if Lofti Nino had converted all four of their tries in a tense 26-24 defeat. Ben Collings' record of three conversions out of four just tipped the balance.

That meant the English needed to beat their Kenyan opponents who had won their two previous matches by wider margins to go through. They did so, winning 26-7 courtesy of tries by Kevin Barrett, Tom Varndell and Isao Damu, who scored the last two. South Africa were predictable winners of Pool C after breaking the hearts of Scotland in their final match. A try deep into added time by Mpho Mbiyozo snatched a 19-14 verdict to follow another tight 15-7 win over Canada. They joined New Zealand, who won Pool A, in the last eight.

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