Thrills and thrills in Malaga as HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 returns

  • England, South Africa, Ireland, Argentina, USA and France qualify for the quarter-finals of the Men’s Cup
  • Germany keeps third series Australia to 12-12 draw
  • Perry Baker marks 50th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event with a try
  • France’s Jordan Sepho scores five goals in two games
  • Australia, France, Russia and the US secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Cup
  • Alena Tiron scores her 100th Series try

Ciudad de Malaga Stadium welcomed the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to Spain for the first time as the 2022 season continued in style.

Current leaders in the Men’s and Women’s Series, South Africa and Australia, remain on track for a third tournament win of the campaign after a day of suspense at the HSBC Spain Sevens.

The Blitzboks secured their place in the quarter-finals of the cup and are one of seven undefeated men’s teams going into day two. Third seed Australia are also among them, although they were held to a 12-12 draw by an impressive appearance from invited guests Germany.

Top women Australia had to dig deep to beat Ireland at the end of day one, but ended up as one of four unbeaten women’s teams on Friday. With four spots left for the cup quarter-finals up for grabs, there’s plenty to play for on day two.

Series leaders South Africa, England lead Group A

South Africa has set the pace in the Series so far with consecutive wins in Dubai. However, the Blitzboks trailed 7-0 at halftime of their opener in Malaga against Scotland.

However, Zain Davids, Selvyn Davids (twice), captain Siviwe Soyizwapi and Christie Grobbelaar all crossed the line in the second half as South Africa turned on style to win 27-7.

With Fiji’s withdrawal from the tournament, England, Scotland and South Africa each got three points for the matches they would have played against them. That meant that the Scots had to win their second game on day one.

Despite leading 12-0 in the first half, it was England who won that match 24-17, as Jamie Adamson, skipper Alex Davis (twice) and Blake Boyland landed to ensure their side kept up with the Blitzboks at the top of Pool A.

Germany surprises Australia as Ireland takes control of Pool B

Ireland played Japan twice in Dubai last year without conceding a try, but they fell behind early in the opening game in Malaga when Taiga Ishida scored. Ireland recovered, however, and had 19 unanswered points in the second half to secure a 33-14 win.

The Irish followed that with a 24-7 defeat of a spirited German team, thanks in no small part to two attempts by Teddy Kennedy to close the first day of Group B.

Earlier on the Spanish coast, Germany had arguably won the day’s result as they held Australia to a 12-12 draw.

The last time the teams met, Australia won 50-0, but after holding the game scoreless at halftime, the Germans recovered twice from conceding Nathan Lawson and scored with the final leg of the game via Tim Lichtenberg.

Fabian Heimpel’s conversion confirmed a famous result, leaving Germany in contention for a place in the quarter-finals.

They round off their Pool B campaign against Japan, which later on Friday lost 42-0 to Australia. The win ensured that the third seeded to finish the day in second place in the group behind Ireland.

Argentina and the US book last eight places

American star Perry Baker led his team for their opening game in Pool C against Spain on Friday, when he made his first appearance at his 50th Series event.

Baker marked that milestone with his 211th Series attempt in his career, as the US took revenge on the hosts, who defeated them in Dubai, with a 19-14 win.

The United States then secured their place in the Cup quarter-finals as Kevon Williams scored three of his side’s seven tries in their 47-0 win over Jamaica.

Jamaica was a late call-up for Malaga, replacing Samoa, but they got off to a strong start to their campaign in Spain by scoring first and trailing just 10-7 at half time in their opening game against Argentina.

But the South Americans proved too strong in the second half, with 31-7 winners. And the second series ended a wonderful day of sevens with an impressive 40-12 loss to host Spain.

Fantastic France unleashed in Pool D

Jordan Sepho and Nelson Epee were the stars as France advanced to the men’s quarter-finals on day one with big wins against Wales and Canada.

Sepho helped himself to five tries – including a hat-trick against Wales – while Epee scored four when Les Bleus defeated the Welsh 38-10 and Canada 38-5 to take a firm hold at the top of Pool D.

Wales and Canada, who face each other on Saturday, can both join France in the final eight after beating Kenya on day one.

Canada went from 5-0 to build a 19-5 lead in their opening game against Kenya and endured a fight back from the African side to finish it 19-17.

Kenya again scored the first try of their second game, but Morgan Williams (twice) and Tom Brown crossed the white lime to secure a 19-14 win for Wales and ensure the Shujaa ended day one scoreless.

Australia, USA, Russia and France set the pace in the women’s tournament

Brazil’s Andressa Alves scored the first-ever Series try in Spain, but it was Russia that won the opener as they covered their numerical deficit to secure a 15-10 win in Pool C of the women’s tournament.

Russia could choose from only nine players available in Malaga. However, they were too strong for the Brazilians as Daria Noritsina, Alena Tiron – her 100th Series attempt – and Baizat Khamidova crossed the whitewash.

Khamidova was the star of Russia’s second game on day one, when she scored her side’s first and last try in a 24-14 defeat to England to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the cup.

On the way to day two, it is France that leads Pool C on points difference with the Russians. Les Bleues started their campaign with an impressive 33-17 win against England, starring Coralie Bertrand and Séraphine Okemba.

Joanna Grisez scored a hat-trick to help Les Bleues beat Brazil 33-7 in the afternoon and secure their passage to the last eight. They play against Russia on Saturday morning, with the winners taking first place.

Due to the Fijiana’s withdrawal, only two games were played in Pool B on day one. Both involved the US, beating Canada and debutants Poland to secure their place in the quarter-finals.

The USA had four tries against their North American rivals to start the day in style before Cheta Emba scored twice against Poland to bring her tally to three in Malaga and secure a 31-7 win for her side.

Poland will face Canada on day two with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, and they can take heart from their performance against the US, in which Malgorzata Koldej scored the country’s first-ever Series try.

Host Spain continues to battle for a place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s Cup after finishing day one with a 26-19 loss to Belgium.

Spain lost their first ever home game as Beibhinn Parsons, Stacey Flood and Eve Higgins scored to give Ireland a 21-5 win in Pool A.

But the home side responded well under the spotlight as Anne Fernández de Corres scored two of Spain’s four tries against the debutants.

The hosts will face Australia on Saturday morning and need a win to ensure they continue. The Series leaders looked good on day one as they tried to continue their perfect start to the new season.

Tim Walsh won his first game back as coach of Australia, beating Belgium 40-5, and the Olympic Rio 2016 champions rounded out the first day with a hard-fought 17-12 defeat of Ireland

Example of day two

The action continues in Malaga on Saturday as pool ends in both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Day two kicks off at 09:00 local time (GMT +1) as Brazil face England at Stadium Ciudad de Malaga and both teams need a win to stand a chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the Women’s Cup as one of the two best as third finished.

France and Russia then battle for first place in Pool C before debutants Poland face Canada with second place in Pool B on the line.

Ireland then takes on Belgium at 10:28 AM local time, while the women’s group action ends when host Spain takes on series leaders Australia.

Canada and Wales will kick off the men’s promotion at 11:27 AM local time (GMT +1), with the winner qualifying for the quarter-finals of the cup. Undefeated Pool D rivals France then face Kenya in hopes of securing first place.

Pool B is next as winless Germany and Japan meet in Malaga before Australia takes on Ireland in hopes of beating their opponents at the top of the pool.

Top-class men’s South Africa will play against England at 13:17 local time, with the winner of that match securing first place in Pool A for the quarter-finals of the cup.

Host Spain then rounds out their Pool C campaign against Jamaica by invitation, before Argentina and the US risk their unbeaten start.

The Women’s Cup quarter-finals kick off at 2:53 PM local time (GMT +1) when the US takes on the top third team.

The men’s seeding matches will take place from 5:20 PM local time before the cup quarter-finals begin at 7:07 PM local time.

READ MORE: New Dates for Vancouver and Los Angeles in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 >>

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