CATHAY PACIFIC / HSBC HONG KONG SEVENS
Norton breaks try-scoring record as Hong Kong kicks off in style
England’s Dan Norton became the all-time leading try-scorer on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with his 245th try.
The winger touched down under the posts against South Korea to break the record held by Kenya’s Collins Injera, who was also in action on day one of the seventh round of this season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Speaking after breaking the record, Norton said: “It was a nice feeling. The hardest thing was trying to control my brain this week and concentrate on the process that got me here in the first place. It was always nice to get it out of the way.
“There’s a lot more to come but obviously Collins (Injera) is still out there playing so now it’s about doing as well as we can for our country and win as many tournaments as we can.”
The 52-0 win over South Korea also saw England captain Tom Mitchell claim his 100th series try, while Australia’s Ed Jenkins, Canada’s Nathan Hirayama and South Africa’s Cecil Afrika all appeared in their 50th tournament.
Australia and Samoa opened proceedings on Friday evening on Hong Kong island as coach Gordon Tietjens sat pitchside in the Samoan colours instead of the All Blacks Sevens tracksuit that he donned for 22 years. In a close game, Henry Hutchison scored twice to help his side to a 22-19 victory in humid conditions. Later in Pool A, England put invitational team South Korea to the sword, scoring eight tries as Dan Norton and Tom Mitchell reached their respective milestones.
Canada’s Nathan Hirayama ran out first as he marked his 50th cap in their Pool B clash against Kenya. In a tight, physical affair, Luke McCloskey scored first for his side before Kenya answered back with a try from Dennis Ombachi. However, it was a superb effort from Harry Jones that swung the match for the Canadians as he went in under the posts with style. Hirayama’s last-minute penalty snatched the 17-14 win as he became Canada’s all-time top points scorer.
Another tight encounter saw series leaders South Africa take on France in the last game of the night and while the Blitzboks went ahead early, the French battled back brilliantly to make it 10-10 with minutes to go. However, cometh the hour cometh the inspirational Cecil Afrika, who crossed the line with three minutes left to edge the South Africans in front and claim the 17-10 win.
New Zealand started the Hong Kong weekend without inspirational captain Scott Curry, who pulled out on Friday morning due to illness. Sevens stalwart DJ Forbes stepped in to resume his former role as captain as they took on Wales in Pool C. Another All Black Sevens experienced hand Tim Mikkelson opened the scoring before getting sent to the sin-bin for obstructing a Welsh penalty. The extra player helped Wales put Morgan Williams over in the corner to level. But it was Forbes who stepped up to make it 12-7 and Beaudein Waaka finished off a length of the pitch try to see New Zealand lay down a marker as they walked away with a 19-7 win.
Afterwards Fiji gave a masterclass in front of the fans to defeat Japan. Two tries from Jerry Tuwai, as well as individual efforts from Joeli Lutumailagi, Vatemo Ravouvou, Osea Kolinisau and Apisai Domolailia, saw Fiji win 36-0.
A tight game got Pool D underway as Argentina and Scotland battled it out in front of a packed Hong Kong Stadium. Gaston Revol opened the scoring but Scotland’s Jamie Farndale levelled the scores before the break. Argentina applied pressure and started to pull away in the second half with the dazzling Matias Osadczuk crossing before Dougie Fife showed his twinkle toes at the other end. A try from sub Renzo Barbier was enough to secure a 22-14 win for Argentina.
Following that match, USA took on Russia and if the Americans were expecting an easy 14 minutes, they were very much mistaken. An intense battle saw Folau Niua score after five minutes before speed merchant Perry Baker crossed the whitewash after breaking out of his own 22. However, Russia piled on the pressure and were rewarded when German Davydov pushed over with three minutes left. USA, led by Madison Hughes, held out to secure a valuable 14-7 win.
World Rugby Series Qualifier
The traditional competition to qualify one team for the next season’s series kicked off the festival of rugby on Friday in Hong Kong, with all 12 teams looking hungry and eager to compete for the top prize.
With each team playing two pool games on day one, five teams finished the day unbeaten in Germany, hosts Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Chile and Spain.
Wesley Vali from Papua New Guinea stood out by scoring two tries, including one superb effort in the corner against Guyana.
The action continues on Saturday when the final qualifier pool games kick-off the action at 09:00 (GMT +7), before the series resumes in front of a sold-out crowd in Hong Kong.
Fri Apr 7 2017 Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong
Draw Day Two
07 April – 09 April 2017 POOLS