x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

How it happened: Wales win Sevens World Cup

In a day of shocks, Wales beat Argentina to be crowned the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 champions.

Wales celebrate with the Melrose Cup after winning the final of the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup against Argentina.
Wales celebrate with the Melrose Cup after winning the final of the 2009 Rugby Sevens World Cup against Argentina.

What a day of rugby. Thoroughly entertaining and it's been a joy to be here at The Sevens in Dubai to soak up the atmosphere and witness the best players in the game doing what they do best. Thanks for joining in The National's coverage, keep logged onto www.thenational.ae/sport/ for further match reports and analysis of the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009. Melrose Cup final Wales 19 - 12 Argentina Wales were hoping to avenge their defeat to Argentina in Pool F on day one of the Rugby World Cup Sevens when they were comprehensively beaten 14-0 and did so in dramatic fashion to cap off a wonderful day of sevens rugby. Argentina went into the match as favourites, but today has thrown up it's lions share of surprise results and the Melrose Cup final wasn't going to be any different. They signalled their intent from the start as Richie Pugh defied his massive frame to motor through the gears and score down in the right corner. Martin Rodriguez showed his physical prowess to steal the ball in the tackle and then raw pace to leave the Welsh defence chasing him as he went over for a try. Just for good measure, he landed a conversion from way out near the touch line as the partisan crowd was now in full voice. Wales struck back through a piece of individual brilliance from Tall Selley. A burst of speed took him past three Argentinean defenders as he touched down for his 56th sevens rugby try in the red of Wales as they regained the lead 12-7. Santiago Gomez Cora, the Argentine sevens legend playing with a thigh injury, was up to his usual tricks of badgering the referee over every decision and none more so than when he was judged to have knocked on before grounding the ball just before half-time. The sevens world said goodbye to him early in the second half as he was withdrawn much to his obvious annoyance (what else would you expect?) Gonzalo Camacho levelled the scores at 12-12 with four minutes remaining as this game, like the women's final, was poised on a knife edge. Aled Thomas broke from the base of the ruck and darted in between two Argentine defenders as Wales claimed the lead for a second time. The successful conversion meant the Pumas needed a converted try to force a second successive final to extra-time. Argentina won a penalty with 10 seconds remaining as they geared themselves to throw the kitchen sink at the Welsh rearguard. However, they spilled the ball in the tackle as the Welsh players gleefully watched the ball trickle out of play to grant the proud nation their first World Cup success in either format. Cue Tom Jones and joyful celebrations sure to last long into the Dubai night. Cup final (women) New Zealand 10 - 15 Australia The trans-Tasman rivals battled it out for the right to be crowned the inaugural women's Rugby World Cup Sevens champions here in Dubai. The men from these two nations first went into battle in 1882 but the game has come along way since then and neither side wanted to go home empty-handed. Australia made the early breakthrough through the 20-year-old Nicole Beck who showed great awareness of where the try line was as she placed the ball over her head as she was spun in the tackle dangerously close to the touchline. Debbie Hodgkinson kept herself hidden down the blindside and her teammates worked the ball to her and she just had enough strength to reach over the line to hand the Aussies a 10-0 advantage. New Zealand took advantage of an Australian sinbinning just before half-time by spreading the ball wide for Justine Lavea, who did well to gather an ugly bouncing ball before crossing the whitewash. A clever switch-kick at the start of the second half finally saw the Kiwis get Carla Hohepa on the ball. The tournament's top scorer wrestled the ball away from an Australian tackler before sprinting for the line for her 9th touchdown of the campaign as the New Zealanders started to make their numerical advantage count. With the scores level at 10-10 and the sides level at seven all, Hannah Porter lifted the crowd as she chased after a 40m kick but was just beaten to it by Australia's Ru Sims to ground in the in-goal area. The Australia captain Chez Soon thought she'd broken free with three minutes remaining, but the referee called play back for an offside infringement. The Aussies were starving New Zealand's main attacking threat Hohepa as the whistled sounded for the end of 20 minutes to signal extra-time and golden points (first team to score wins). Few heroes ever emerge from extra-time but in a game of sevens where scoring opportunities are more frequent, one was always likely in the first period and her name was Shelly Matcham. Australia worked the overlap on the right and although she took two attempts to get the ball over the line, Matcham wrote hers and Australia's name in Rugby World Cup Sevens folklore as the first winners of the women's Cup. Plate final (men) Australia 17 - 21 Scotland Scotland got off top the perfect start as Andrew Turnbull notched his 13th sevens career try, running a line the Australian defence could not cover. But a poor restart was punished as Ed Jenkins roamed up field and spun out of a tackle as Australia hit back to make it 7-7 three minutes in. Turnbull staked his claim for Player of the Tournament as he beat Luke Morahan for pace and ground his kick, his 7th try of the competition that drew him level with England's Tom Varndell. Lady luck was smiling on Turnbull in the second half as his personal duel with Morahan increased. The Australian winger was wrongfully judged to have put a foot in touch as he rounded his opposite winger and the touch judge called for a line-out. Roddy Grant then scored his 4th try of the tournament which proved decisive. He was involved twice in the move that saw him with an ocean of green to run at and he had too much in the tank for the covering Aussie defence to make it 21-7. The Jenkins brothers combined to set up Richard Kingi for the Wallabies' second try, but the conversion was missed meaning they still had to score twice with two minutes left. Damon Murphy's try for Australia again went unconverted, meaning the Scots had an anxious 60 seconds of holding on before eventually securing the Plate final 21-17. Plate final (women) Canada 0 - 12 England England picked up the Plate trophy with a one-sided victory over Canada. It was not the one they wanted to win, but at least they leave the Middle East having picked up a trophy, something the English men can only wish for. Canada's Brooke Hilditch nearly broke the deadlock but grounded the ball on the touchline after chasing her own kick. Danielle Waterman scored to give England the lead midway through the half. She received the ball on the left-wing, pinned her ears back and did not look back as she left the Canadians trailing in her wake. Kat Merchant dumped Tara Eckert on her backside with a hand-off and then cantered fully 50 metres to put England 12 points ahead at half-time. The Canadians were bearing the brunt of England's frustration, who were no doubt mad at themselves for failing to make the showpiece final later tonight. Canada could find no way to break through a stubborn and resolute England defence. England saw out the game a player down after Jo Yapp was sin binned for a high tackle and can consolidate themselves knowing they picked up more silverware then their male counterparts. Bowl final (men) Zimbabwe 17-14 Ireland The Zimbabwe team have been a credit to themselves today. Playing just hours after the news of the death of the Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife in a car crash, they set about the Bowl final in emphatic mood determined to leave the UAE with some silverware. Danny Hondo timed his pass perfectly for the run of Cleopas Makotose as Zimbabwe opened the scoring, adding the extras for a 7-0 lead in the first half. A second followed through Gerald Sibanda who grounded his own kick forward as Ireland found themselves on the wrong side of a 12-0 scoreline at the interval. Kyle Tonetti reduced the arrears to five points after good work from Paul Marshall to keep the ball in play before being forced into touch. Kieron Campbell came off the bench and collected Brian Tuohy's reverse pass to go in under the posts. The conversion was successful and Ireland found themselves in front for the first time in the match. The lead changed hands for a third and final time as Jacques Leitao outstripped the defence for his second try of the day as the Africans saw out the match 17-14. Bowl final (women) China 10 - 7 Brazil China have won the inaugural Bowl final at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai. They didn't start too well, flying to close to the sun and getting their wings burnt. They tried to play the ball from behind their own goal line and as the Brazilian line stepped up, they cut off the space as the Chinese women fumbled the ball and allowed Barbara Santiago in for an easily converted try. Liu Yang was China's main attacking threat and it was her offload a metre short of the line that allowed Wang Qianli to dive over from close range. She missed the resulting conversion that would have ensured they headed into the break on level terms. China took control of proceedings in the second half and it was no surprise when Yang Hong went over in the corner despite the efforts of the covering defence. Both sides tired badly as the half wore on and China were reduced to six players for the last 50 seconds of the match but China held on to be crowned inaugural women's Bowl winners at the Rugby World Cup Sevens. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cup semi-finals Argentina 12 - 0 Kenya Kenya's story of this Rugby World Cup Sevens will live long in the memory. Their fans have been infectious, their attack has been cutting and they've defended like lions. But sadly, this was a game too far for their players. But they leave Dubai with many new friends and admirers. Argentina absorbed the Kenyan attack for five minutes solid before Santiago Gomez Cora broke down the right. He was held up just short of the line but Horacio San Martin was in support to chalk up the first try of the match with the conversion giving the Pumas a 7-0 lead at the break. Benedict Nyambu needed the ball to fall a bit kinder for him midway through the second half and without doubt he would have raced in for a score. But the rub of the green was definitely favouring the South Americans in this match. Martin Bustos Moyano beat Collins Injera to his own chip and chase and got sufficient downward pressure for the referee to award the try for a 12-0 lead. But in the end, the Argentines just had too much muscle for the Kenyans. They gave it their all but failed to keep their fairytale going right up to the final. Wales 19 - 12 Samoa All four teams must be fancying their chances now. All the big guns have been eliminated, the Cup is there for the taking, who wants it the most? Wales started in perfect fashion as Aled Brew powered his way through before Wales added the extras with the conversion. Tal Selley, Wales' all-time leading scorer in the sevens format, finished off a flowing move that went through three phases as Wales asserted their class on proceedings. That score spurred the Samoans back into life briefly as Rupena Levasa stayed on his feet long enough to offload to Uale Mai. The fly-half spotted Alafoti Faosiliva all on his own out wide and simply punted the ball across field for the giant three-quarter to score. Tom Jones's "Delilah" resonated around The Sevens ground as the Welsh fans attempted raise the noise levels. Tom Isaacs, on for Selley, backed himself against the Samoan defenders, feigning to use Richie Pugh before accelerating to the line after a nice arcing run as Wales sensed a spot in tonight's final. The Samoans looked jaded after their exhilarating quarter-final clash against England but bowed out on a high note with a great individual try from Faosiliva. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We have a short break now before resuming with the mouth-watering Cup semi-finals. Wales, Samoa, Argentina and Kenya will battle it out to be crowned Melrose Cup winners. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scotland 29 - 7 Portugal It's sweltering out there so hats off to those battling it out on the pitch and those in the stands with no protection from the searing elements. Scotland picked up where they left off against France. Colin Gregor started and finished the move as he kept the ball alive before Scott Forrest threw the ball back inside for the captain to score. Not only was he playing in the band but Gregor was singing the songs too as his clever kick off saw Andrew Turnbull gather the ball and saunter in for Scotland's second five-pointer of the match. Turnbull was again on the scoresheet minutes later, finishing off a Scottish set-piece from the scrum on the Portuguese 22. Portugal's energy was sapping, which is no surprise after playing in this heat for three straight days. Scotland one a turnover inside their own half and once again Gregor was the provide as he played in Mike Adamson for another Scotland chance. Pedro Leal did well to ground the ball as the Scottish defence tried to turn him on his back for Portugal's lone reply.Turnbull completed his hat-trick as he followed his own chip over the top. They will play Australia in the Plate final later tonight. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Plate semi-finals Tonga 19 - 22 Australia I counted 24 seconds on the clock. That's how long it took for Tonga to gather the ball from the restart and feed the ball out wide to Alaska Taufa to score down in the left-hand corner. Australia, who lost the first ever Sevens World Cup final in 1993 to England in Edinburgh, had a one man advantage for two minutes as Siaosi Tuatao was sinbinned for a shoulder charge. They made their numerical advantage count as Ed Jenkins scored with Richard Kingi adding the extras from the boot to take a 7-5 lead. Strong pressure from Australia and some demon tackles allowed Luke Morahan to scoop up the loose ball and run in another converted try just before the break. A converted Sosaia Palei try brought the Tongans level at the start of the second half but Tonga are their own worst enemies when it comes to indiscipline as Ualosi Kailea was the second man to be sent to cool down and from the resulting penalty Jenkins passed to Morahan for another try. Still, if you're going to atone for your earlier mistakes, what better way than finishing off a try under the sticks as Kailea did with just 90 seconds left remaining. With the successful conversion, the Wallabies found themselves two points down at 19-17. But it's been a day of high drama today so it shouldn't have come as any surprise when Australia turned the ball over outside their own 22 and when Jenkins fed Morahan wide on the left there was never any doubt the Aussie flyer would score his hat-trick and book his side's place in the Plate final. Ireland 22 - 15 Hong Kong Hong Kong worked the ball so they had a three-on-one situation inside the Irish 22 and it was no surprise when Thomas McQueen went over for the opening score of this semi-final clash. A failed conversion kept the score down to five.Gary Brown drew Ireland level in controversial circumstances as Brian Touhy looked to have failed Keith Robertson as they chased a ball. But the referee waved play on and Brown went in for his third try of the competition. McQueen could have been mistaken for Fred Astaire as he danced his way around two Irish defenders for his second of the match as Hong Kong headed into the break defending a 10-5 advantage. James Coughlan showed great awareness to pass out of the tackle which allowed Tom Gleeson in for an easy try down the right and it was anybody's game with the scores tied at 10 all. Brian Carney, former Wigan and Great Britain rugby league star who also won four caps for the Irish 15s, showed he had lost none of his predatory instincts as he run on the shoulder of Coughlan to accept a pass that saw him score in the corner. Ireland took advantage of Hong Kong being reduced to six men with a player down injured as Felix Jones put a lovely weighted kick out wide for Carney to score his second try and Ireland's fourth. Rowan Varty scored a lung-busting try to make the scoreline more respectable.Ireland will face Zimbabwe in the Bowl final. Zimbabwe 24 - 7 Uruguay Gardiner Nechironga's burst down the blindside and Tengai Nemadire's down the middle saw Zimbabwe go 14-0 in front before the Uruguayans even realised they were playing for a place in the final of the Bowl Cup. Gerald Sibanda's added a third to give the African side a 19-0 lead. Uruguay needed to wake up, quickly. Juan Campomar was quick to exploit a gap from a quick touch penalty and darted through from 10 metres out. That score visibly woke the South Americans from their Sevens coma and finally they made a contest of the match. But Zimbabwe have made many admirers here in Dubai, with Nemadire arguably their best player, and it was he who attacked on an arcing run and smiled from ear to ear as he touched down for his second of the match. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Cup quarter-finals Kenya 21 - 7 Fiji Wow! Three quarter-finals, three upsets - could Kenya make it a fourth against the favourites Fiji, the Sevens world champions? The answer is yes. They certainly deserved to for their fans alone, who have played their part in adding colour and carnival fun to this tournament. It certainly looked that way as Kenya scored off the back of a Fijian scrum. Lavin Asego showed great hands to pick the ball off the deck and evade some tackles before the extra were kicked for a 7-0 lead. Collins Injera will be kicking himself for not adding to his own tally for the tournament. He stood up his marker who dared him to go outside him. He did. He had the line in sight and for some reason, dropped the ball out into touch. Fiji's error count was mounting up, very unlike them, and another error early in the second half saw Allan Onyango race in for a try, following a wonderful pass earlier which took out three Fiji players. Fiji got back in the hunt when Orisi Sareki followed up Naploioni Nalaga's good work to dive in under the posts but Humphrey Kayange and Injera made the result safe to make history for the east African nation and book their place in the semi-finals of the Melrose Cup. South Africa 12 - 14 Argentina The energy from this crowd after the last two games could light up Dubai, Abu Dhabi and all roads in between. Worth the entrance fee alone; truly breathtaking rugby from players who play off the cuff. The third Cup quarter-final was never going to match those games, and allowed the crowd to catch its collective breath. South Africa took a third minute lead through their captain Mpho Mbiyozo before he was sent to the sin bin for bringing a man down in the air from a line-out. Ryno Benjamin's second half try made it 12-0 to the Springboks before Martin Bustos Moyano outpaced the South African rearguard and Martin Rodriguez kicked a monster conversion from out wide to give the Pumas hope. Bustos Moyano broke through once again, this time on the right wing, and was dangerously close to stepping over the in-goal line but the officials awarded the try and another successful Rodriguez conversion saw the South Americans snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. England 26 - 31 Samoa What drama. A cat has nine lives but this England side has seven living, chest beating players who don't know when they're beat, that was until Samoa scored a try two minutes into extra-time to break the hearts of the majority of the fans here at The Sevens. England should have been given a huge fillip after seeing New Zealand knocked out in the previous game but Samoa exploded out of the blocks to take a 21-7 lead at half-time. Samoa put pressure on the England scrum early in the game and the resulting chaos presented Lolo Lui with a chance to score out wide. The conversion gave them a 7-0 lead.England hit back, inevitably through Tom Varndell. We all know about his pace, but this try highlighted his upper body strength as he handed off two Samoan defenders before scoring under the posts for his sixth of the tournament. Ben Gollings converted.Not content to let me catch my breath, Samoa soon regained their lead as Loi fed Alatasi Tupou on his inside for the 19-year-old to score under the posts. 14-7 to Samoa and less than three minutes played. England could not hold back wave after wave of Samoan attacks and Ulae Mai, Sevens player of the year in 2006, extended the lead to 21-7 when he grounded the ball before being pushed into touch by Varndell and England at this stage looked like joining New Zealand in exiting the tournament. The England players faced their biggest test and just seven minutes to save their involvement in the competition at the start of the second half but Samoa would have beaten even the great Fijian sides of the past on this form. Varndell skinned two men to reduce the defecit to nine points. England had to get the ball in the Leicester player's hands more often if they were going to pull off a comeback but the Samoans starved him. The England captain Ollie Phillips had a try ruled out for a knock on but quickly made amends when Barrett nicked the ball at the Samoan scrum and Phillips brought the scores to within a score. Alafoti Faosiliva thought he had made sure of Samoa's progression, showing great strength and determination to reach over the line despite the attentions of two England defenders.Samoa kicked the ball out thinking the game was over but the referee said there was still time for the line out. And that was all England needed. They kept the ball alive and Josh Drauninu crashed through to force the game into extra-time. Phew! The pendulum had swung in England's favour and it seemed they would go on to complete a remarkable comeback. But Samoa deserved the win on the balance of play with Simaika Mikaele scoring the all-important winner. New Zealand 14 - 15 Wales Mirror images for New Zealand in the seven man game. Pre-tournament favourites failing to even make the final as Wales stole a pulsating quarter-final match. It was the All Blacks who drew first blood through DJ Forbes.Wales' Lee Williams took on the defence down the blindside and was rewarded with a 60m try to reduce the score to 7-5. The Kiwi defence again held off from tackling Williams and he delayed his pass for the onrushing Richie Pugh to punch his way through into the corner to send Wales into the break with the lead. Victor Vito could only watch on from the sidelines. The New Zealand kingpin succumbing to the calf injury that has blighted his stay in the Emirates. However, he had reason to cheer at the start of the second half as Lote Raikabula sent the Welsh defence the wrong way to put his side 14010 in front. Nerves were clearly showing in both sides as Wales squandered a good attacking position after a clever lineout and Viliame Waqaseduadua inexplicably dropping the ball with the line at his mercy. Tom Isaacs's try was completely off the cuff and showed an old head on young shoulders. A pass fed out to him was woefully short and instead of trying to gather the ball with two Kiwi players gunning for him he kicked through the gap between them and raced on to give Wales a 15-14 lead and seal a dramatic win. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Plate quarter-finals Portugal 10 - 5 Canada Portugal won the Shield here in the Dubai Sevens in November so Canada were always going to have to work for their place in the last four of the Plate.  Medical attention hasn't been much needed during the tournament so far but a clash of heads that reverberated around the main grand stand saw two Canadian players floored for several minutes on the pitch. But these players are made of stern stuff. Justin Mensah-Coker was one of the players involved but he picked himself up, dusted himself down and then proceeded to slide his way in and out of the Portuguese defence to give the land of the Maple Leaf a 5-0 lead. Goncalo Foro did well to keep the ball alive before being forced into touch which allowed Aderito Esteves to dart in for his third try of the competition to level the scores. With the scores tied and the full-time hooter hooting, Portugal looked to have blown their chance for victory when they passed up the three points a drop goal would have brought but did score the decisive try through David Mateus to win the game and advance. France 19 - 21 Scotland The stands are getting more and more packed with every game and the atmosphere more carnival with people decked out in everything from playing cards to leopard skin leotards. Julien Malzieu showed the Scottish defence a clean pair of heels as he collected a loose ball in his own 22 and set his radar for the try line. Jim Thompson did well to track him and force him wide enough to make sure there could be no conversion.Scotland equalised through Roland Reid. The giant forward showed glimpses of his old days on the wing to finish wide on the left and Colin Shaw added the extras. France's Farid Sid would have made a decent claim for try of the tournament, if only he had grounded the ball on the line. He stopped and started three times as he attempted to shake off four defenders. His run from 70m out was eventually held up inches short of the line and from the resulting play Scotland took the lead through Scott Forrest, with French defenders protesting at what they perceived was obstruction in the build up. Sid did find his name on the score sheet early in the second half as he brushed aside two tacklers to cross the whitewash. The try was converted to cut Scotland's lead to 14-12. The Scots, beaten yesterday by Canada and South Africa, were playing the best rugby of the day and it was no surprise when they increased their lead through Roddy Grant on the right wing. Scotland moved the French all over the pitch before Grant stood his marker up before beating him on the inside. Thomas Combezou showed neat footwork to make it easier for the conversion. Scotland defenders assumed he would ground the ball wide but the Frenchman's turn of pace took him to within two metres of the post and the successful conversion set up a tense finish with the scores tentatively poised at 21-19 to the Scots. The French gave it their all on the final play of the game, desperately trying to punch holes in the Scottish defence, but the Scots frantically cleared the ball with the try line beckoning and the full-time hooter drowned out by the Scottish contingent in the crowd. Of which there are many. Best game so far by a country mile. USA 14 - 24 Australia Giants of the 15-a-side game but yet to make their mark in the reduced numbers game, Australia moved the ball with fluidity and it was their rugby league convert Shaun Foley who finished a flowing five man move to give Australia the lead through a converted try. Luke Morahan, just 18-years-old, finished like a seasoned professional as he outstripped the American defence with a long diagonal run to make it 12-0. Captain Damon Murphy, who with his ginger hair must be wearing factor 50 sun protection in the soaring Dubai heat, scored the Wallabies' third try before the interval. The US were some pundits' tips as dark horses for the tournament but they never really got into their stride in this game. Jone Naqica sold two Australian tacklers dummies to reduce the margin to 10 points but Morahan's well waited kick forward took a fortuitous bounce off the post to send the covering defence the wrong way leaving him with the simple task of grounding to put the match out of America's reach. To their credit, the US took the battle to their opponents right to the final whistle, with Paul Emerick scoring a late consolation try, but Australia's robust tackling and commitment at the breakdown earned them the right to carve the Eagles open. Tonga 24 - 7 Tunisia This happened yesterday. Tunisia played in similar colours and patterns to England and the match officials have allowed it to happen again today. A nightmare for journalists and fans alike. The African side were moments away from causing the upset of the tournament yesterday before narrowly losing to England 26-24 and gave a much better account of themselves in the second half after a truly abysmal opening seven minutes. Tonga's Alaska Taufa opened the scoring; I know this purely by the fans reaction below us, which is vociferous. He showed great acceleration and handling skills to fend off the Tunisians to open the scoring inside 60 seconds. Tunisia were not committing many, if any, players to the breakdown which resulted in them going 12-0 down as Mateo Malupo gathered and galloped unopposed to the line. Try number three was too easy as Sione Fonua strolled past two uninterested Tunisian players. The fourth Tongan try came courtesy of a policeman and village chief in his homeland, Ualosi Kailea, for a 24-0 half-time scoreline.Tunisia responded well to their coach's tongue-lashing at the interval. Haithem Chelly received a pass just inside the Tongan half and with less than five metres to work with between defender and touch; goose-stepped Tonga's Sosai Palei and had enough strength to carry them both over the line. Vaea T Poteki was sin binned late on but Tunisia couldn't capitalise. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bowl quarter-finals Hong Kong14 - 7  Italy The two minnows of Sevens enjoyed hearty support from the rugby-loving public at The Sevens ground, eager to see the players raise their game in the final Bowl quarter-final match. The Azzurri were powerless to stop a rampaging Tom McQueen bulldozing his way over the line inside the first minute with Kenzo Pannell slotting in a conversion from a tight angle. Steven Bortolussi broke down the left wing and found support on the inside in the form of the giant Jaco Erasmus who cantered home for his first try of the tournament. A successful conversion saw the Italians draw level with Hong Kong but they were undone by a sucker punch from Keith Robertson who followed up his kick through to score under the posts. Now trailing 14-7, Italy showed a bit more urgency in their play but that led to indiscipline as two offside verdicts went against them. Michele Sepe made a desperate break from his own try line but just didn't have the legs to outpace the Hong Kong backline. Ireland 24 - 5 Arabian Gulf A huge roar for the home team as they take to the field as the Arabian Gulf looked to build on their impressive display against New Zealand yesterday against Ireland. Crowd favourite Jonny MacDonald had the fans out of their seats as he made a bee-line for the try line but was forced into touch by the scrambling Irish defence. The Gulf spent the majority of the half camped in Ireland's 22 but Ireland showed good patience before eventually working the ball out wide to Felix Jones who trotted in unopposed from 50 metres out while looking like a headbanger at a Motorhead concert. The conversion gave Ireland a 7-0 half-time lead.Kyle Tonetti showed great footwork to round MacDonald on the outside to increase Ireland's lead to 14 points. Marcus Smith was too quick for everyone including his own Gulf teammates as he took a quick tap penalty and then sprinted in for a try from 30 metres out to make it 14-5. Gary Brown, simply known to his teammates as "Speedster" scored his second try of the competition for Ireland before Tonetti sealed the win for Ireland and condemned the tournament's hosts to their four defeat in four games. Japan 12 - 19 Uruguay Japan, who have graced all five Sevens World Cups to date, would have struggled to catch a cold in the Arctic let alone a rugby ball in Dubai during a frustrating opening half. Kilryong So showed his jet-heeled pace as he looked to beat four Urguayan defenders on the outside. He would have surely made it a length of the field try had it not been for the last-ditch ankle tap by Ignacio Conti. The Japanese were guilty of dropping the ball three times from try scoring positions before the Samoan-born Alisi Tupuailei scored on the stroke of half-time for a 5-0 lead. Matias Arocena, one of thee survivors for Uruguay from the last Sevens World Cup, darted through the Japanese defence then successfully converted his own try to give the South Americans the lead. Indiscipline cost Japan as the referee reversed his penalty decision and the Uruguayans found themselves in attack from five metres out. Jeronimo Etcheverry eventually burrowed his way through. The seesaw battle then saw Takashi Suzuki make it 14-12 with 90 seconds remaining. A beautiful cross-field kick from Arocena found Etcheverry wide on the left and the fly-half grounded with seconds remaining to seal Uruguay's last four berth. Zimbabwe 28 - 10 Georgia The opening exchanges saw both teams fumble, spill and give away possession before Zimbabwe's Tangai Nemadire cut through the Georgian defence for the opening try of day three. It was short-lived lead as Georgi Shkinin put the finishing touches on a flowing move down in the right-hand touchline. The try was converted as the Georgians edged their noses in front. Nemadire scored his second try of the game just before the half-time hooter as he was first to Fortune Chipendu's chip forward to give the Africans a 14-5 half-time lead. Shkinin was denied his second try early in the second half after a forward pass and from their own line Zimbabwe cleared their lines with a huge kick and chase which resulted in Wensley Mbanje touching down between the posts. Patient build up play from the darting scrum-half Lasha Khmaladze saw him work the space for Alexander Todua to dart in down the left wing as Georgia looked to snatch victory. But their need to keep the ball alive inevitably invited mistakes and the Zimbabwe captain Jacques Leitao intercepted to kill the game off at the death.Zimbabwe advance to the semi-finals.

DUBAI // Welcome to the third and final day of what has already been a great feast of rugby at the World Cup Sevens here in Dubai. The fans are back in their thousands here at The Sevens ground with the promise of more flavours from this sporting stew as we get ready for quarter-final action. On the Melrose Cup menu today we have the entre of succulent New Zealand against the finger-licking Wales, the delectable English will taste a sizzling Samoan dish, South African taste buds will be enriched when they take to the chef's table opposite Argentina, while Kenya v Fiji promises to serve up the perfect dessert. After that we'll move on to the semi-finals and finals of the Bowl (6.30pm), Plate (7.30pm) and Cup (8.35pm) competitions where we'll also see the first women's sevens champions crowned. No item of crockery is safe so hold on to your hats and keep up to date with all the matches right here with The National. sluckings@thenational.ae