The City of Love worked its magic again, as the Underdogs thrive in day one action. The crowd at the Stade Jean Bouin have been treated to some early mouth watering sevens rugby entertainment at the HSBC Paris Sevens.
Samoa turned up ‘on fire’ in getting off to the perfect start, as did the Scots. The Canadians were brought immediately back to earth [after the Singapore success]. It was a full on day, where the American side were reminded that ‘not everything is about Perry Baker’.
Russia managed to get the upper hand, in their epic ‘core-status battle’ with Japan, as the underdog teams all put 110% onto the field. Sam Cross continues to lead the DHL Performance Tracker, even though the Welsh are struggling. So there was plenty to report on, and….oh yes, that insane offload from the French phenom Virimi Vatakawa.
WHAT. AN. OFFLOAD 👀
HSBC Paris Sevens: Underdogs Thriving
It was ‘the day of the underdogs’ as Samoa and Scotland resurrected their season in this penultimate round of the Sevens Series. With the season ending next week with season finale in London, these two sides are finding form at their favourite fixtures.
The Sevens Rugby World Cup and Commonwealth Games are on next year, and the combinations the two sides have built, along with Canada, will be very hard to contain next season. As others improve, Fiji and South Africa are trying hard to maintain, their rhythm, so are New Zealand and England. The Big guns seemed to be struggling with consistency, injuries and other rugby call-ups, to put out first-pick teams. Affecting the Kiwis for a second season, it must be a concern for all leading sides.
So far it has been an exciting season, and the HSBC Paris Sevens will provide more drama as Day Two unfolds, as for now ‘nothing is what it seems’ anymore.
Day One: The LOWDOWN
Scotland Humbles South Africa to win Pool A
Scotland always find their rhythm in their own ‘neck of the woods’ – Europe. They did it in London 2016. The Bravehearts have always been the ‘boogie team’ for South Africa and they did it again here, winning the opening game 19-12. However, after topping Pool A they have a mouth watering Cup quarter-final match-up against the wounded Fijians. Scott Ridell has led well, with George Horne and Jamie Farndale (see main picture) stepping up -this weekend .
South Africa walloped Singapore champions Canada, to finish runners up. They have a big battle against Samoa in the quarters, who achieved superb results today. The Blitzboks know their mistakes, and coach Neil Powell will have to ensure that it is rectified when they take on the Manu.
Canada just didn’t expect Scotland to show-up, and will go down to the Challenge Trophy where Japan still needs to make a mark, before they slip away from the series.
Pool A results: South Africa 12 Scotland 19 | Canada 21 Japan 7 | South Africa 35 Japan 5 | Canada 19 Scotland 26 | Scotland 31 Japan 14 | Canada 7 South Africa 31
New Zealand Overcame United States to top Pool B
The men from the ‘Land of the Long White Clouds’ overcame a spirited United States side 27-14 to top their Pool. They contained the fast finishing Perry Baker, even though he had done some major damage, to qualify on top. Rocky Khan saved a try, with Regan Ware grabbing the winner to seal the Americans fate. Missing nine players from their initial squad who started the season, the Kiwis did well to carry through. With DJ Forbes playing like a 20 year old, he scored his 150th try in typical front-on style.
Inconsistency again caught up with Team USA, and on Day Two they will want to redeem themselves. Execution and ‘killing off’ games is what they lack; mend that Mike Friday, and the Cup might well be yours. Perry Baker cant do all their work, they each need to step up collectively to be recognized–not as the ‘near-miss’ side.
Wales and Argentina put on a try fest in their final game, won by the Scarlets 47-28. Wales will be disappointed with their performances, especially in defense. On the other hand, credit to the young Pumas side, they were brave today.
Pool B results: New Zealand 26 Wales 7 | USA 26 Argentina 19 | New Zealand 21 Argentina 14 | USA 38 Wales 14 | Wales 47 Argentina 28 | USA 14 New Zealand 27
England Tops Pool C
The English capped off a good day, and will be joined by the French in the Cup Quarters. The two sides had a great outing today. Dan Norton and Tom Mitchell were a beacon of light for the English today, laying solid platforms. If Fiji and South Africa struggle tomorrow, then it could be a good day for Northern Hemisphere rugby.
James Rodwell talked to worldrugby.org after Day One, “It was really tough, the Kenyans are such a physical team and a few of our boys are empty in the tank. We emptied it there, credit to Kenya though. It is an incredible atmosphere here, it just puts a smile on your face when you see so many fans enjoying their rugby.
France wants a fairy tale ending to Julien Candelon’s Sevens Series career. They have a chance to now, and execution will be key for them on Day Two. The call might be to throw all support behind a fit Virimi Vakatawa, and when he makes his breaks then they will have a chance.
In a brave effort, Kenya drew with England in the last game but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The Challenge Trophy awaits them, while Spain found the going tough today.
Pool C results: Kenya 14 France 22 | England 31 Spain 0 | Kenya 26 Spain 14 | England 24 France 7 | France 33 Spain 0 | England 12 Kenya 12
Samoa Resurrects in Paris Dream
Samoa was resurrected on Day One of the HSBC Paris Sevens, as they topped Pool D undefeated. They overcame the defending Series champions Fiji in their first game, coming from behind at the final hooter 19-17. The islanders have struggled throughout the series but suddenly found their rhythm here at the City Of Love. ‘No love lost’ as they overcame the tough Aussies 21-14 and then almost threw it all away, drawing with Russia 19-all. Exhausted, gaining entry into the Cup quarters was a great end, to a perfect day. George Langkilde and Alatasi Tupou were instrumental for Samoa on Day One.
Fiji recovered from their shock loss early in the day, to whip Russia 54-0 and then outwitted Australia 31-14, to finish runners up. They qualify from Pool D with Samoa, but will now face a tougher road through to the final. Kilione Nasoko and Wise Nacuqu have certainly stepped up here in Paris, together with Eminoni Nasilasila and Mesulame Kunavula. However, their senior players also need to make improvements if they hope to hunt down the Blitzboks title aspirations.
Australia struggled against Russia. They were rattled by Samoa, who had a one man advantage for nine full minutes of their game, when Liam McNamara was red carded. Playing against a wounded Fijian side was always going to be a tough ask, and as a result will join Russia in the Challenge Trophy tomorrow.
Russia has only one mission–finish higher then Japan, to save their place on the circuit.
Pool D results: Fiji 17 Samoa 19 | Australia 19 Russia 12 | Fiji 54 Russia 0 | Australia 14 Samoa 21 | Samoa 19 Russia 19 | Fiji 31 Australia 14
Finals Day – Will the Underdogs thrive Again?
With the way Samoa and Scotland are playing, anything can happen. Don’t count out the Americans or the home team; France. Big task though for each, as they face South Africa and Fiji respectively.
New Zealand and England could surprise us with strong runs to the Cup final, but the tide could sway either way on Day Two. The advice from The Lowdown is “Sit back, relax and enjoy Day Two as it will be unpredictable”. Viva Les Bleus.
Challenge Trophy Quarter-finals: Canada v Russia | Kenya v Argentina
Top Stats: while the DHL Performance Tracker shows a multitude of skills, the one stat most Sevens fans can see clearly, is top tryscorer. So who else but the ‘Speedstick’ Perry baker would be on top, at the HSBC Paris Sevens.
Follow all the action on Day Two of the HSBC Paris Sevens with Last Word on Rugby.
“Main photo credit”