Fiji advance to semis as big names tumble at France Sevens
TOULOUSE, France (AP) — Olympic champion Fiji was on course to reach a third consecutive final on the world series at the France Sevens after a dramatic second day Saturday.
Fiji was through to a semifinal against Samoa on Sunday, when host France will face Ireland.
None of the four will threaten the standings of the series leaders, who all took a tumble.
It started with defending series champion and leader South Africa, which lost its last pool game to Samoa 19-7 and failed to make the quarterfinals for the first time in nine years.
New Zealand, the series’ most successful side, trumped that when it failed to reach a quarterfinals for the first time ever after losing its last pool game to Australia 29-14, missing out on points difference.
Though South Africa didn’t advance, No. 2-placed Argentina, No. 3 Australia and No. 4 United States didn’t take advantage.
Argentina, winner of the last leg in Vancouver, was bundled out by Ireland 14-0. Early tries by Bryan Mollen and Terry Kennedy were enough.
The result was karma, perhaps, for the Argentines. They and England contrived in their pool match to advance to the quarterfinals at the expense of Canada.
Argentina, despite a red card, led England 19-0 until near the end when England’s Will Homer streaked away to the posts but didn’t score. He walked around the in-goal, with Argentina just watching, for 2 minutes, 8 seconds, before touching down with the try that let them advance ahead of Canada on points difference.
England didn’t get far. In the quarterfinals, it scored three tries in a row to lead Samoa 17-5, but then Samoa scored three tries in three minutes of the second half, all converted, and won 26-24.
Australia lost its quarterfinal to France 21-19. Australia led 14-7 at halftime and 19-14 with plenty of time, which France used patiently. From a tap penalty deep in its own half, France worked Esteban Capilla on the outside and William Iraguha took the return pass and skipped away for the try to which he added the winning conversion.
The U.S. wasted a 12-0 halftime lead against Fiji in their quarterfinal. Fiji responded with successive tries by Josua Vakurunabili, Elia Canakaivata, and Kaminieli Rasaku to lead 19-12. The U.S. bagged a late try by Steve Tomasin but he couldn’t convert.
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