THE Scotland sevens squad have received a major boost ahead of their home tournament, the Emirates Airline Rugby 7s, in just over a month’s time by winning the Bowl trophy at the Hong Kong Sevens for a second consecutive year.
The Scots left the disappointment of the pool stages behind them and put in three convincing wins against Japan (28-7), Wales (34-0) and France (26-5).
The team showed great character on day three of the 40th Hong Kong Sevens, the sixth leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, and notched 14 tries, with James Johnstone putting in an impressive shift in the centre. He scored four tries across the three games.
Fraser Lyle impressed in the forwards on his first outing in a Scotland rugby jersey, marking the occasion with tries against New Zealand and Wales.
Winning the Bowl competition means the Scots will retain eighth place in the HSBC Sevens World Series standings going into Tokyo 7s next weekend.
Head coach Calum Macrae told the SRU website: “It’s very pleasing, after the disappointment of the first two games, to come back and leave with silverware.
“It’s good to get to a final and win and I must say the Scottish support and positive energy in the crowd has really spurred the team on this weekend.
“The players showed character to pick themselves back up after losing to New Zealand and Australia. Against Portugal, we dug deep to win. But, for me, the match against Wales was the most pleasing because we played our game for the full 14 minutes.
“To nil any team, let alone a side of Wales’ calibre, shows the level of concentration and the ability to stick to the task in hand that this group of players has. Their attitude has been great, our discipline good, which, in turn, has helped us to create opportunities to score. I think having had a few weeks off, it took us a couple of games to get up to speed. Now we have a tournament under our belts and some good back-to- back performances, I’ll encourage the players to keep building on that.”
Fiji reclaimed the main title after routing defending champions New Zealand 33-19 in the final yesterday. Fiji roared to a 21-0 lead in the first half, taking the tension out of the 12th final match-up between the tournament’s most successful sides.
Each time New Zealand rallied, Fiji had a reply, and even denied New Zealand the last say when Fiji’s Vatemo Ravouvou and Apisai Domolailai bundled out Rieko Ioane just shy of the left corner flag.
“Tactically, we were really astute,” Fiji coach Ben Ryan said. “I’m really pleased with the way we managed the final.”
The win was Fiji’s third in four years in the Hong Kong Sevens, and a record-extending 13th in the tournament.
Fiji’s third win from six tournaments in the sevens world series also lifted them above New Zealand into second place, two points behind leaders South Africa, and in position to win a first series in nine years.
Great support play set up Savenaca Rawaca for the opening try, then Semi Kunitani stole ruck ball from New Zealand and sent in Jerry Tuwai. New Zealand tried a five-man attacking lineout, but then trying to back up the sole player out wide ended up giving an intercept try to Rawaca.
Beaudine Waaka’s try just before halftime put New Zealand on the board, and Scott Curry’s immediately after raised hope. But it was dampened by a try by Jasa Veremalua for 28-12 with seven minutes to go.
Curry scored his second try after Sam Dickson took in three defenders, but Ravouvou swept around the left and gifted Domolailai the fifth and last try for Fiji.
“That’s a great Fijian side,” New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. “They defended really well and a couple of length-of-the-field tries killed us.”
Fiji did well to survive their quarter-final. They led England 14-5 with a penalty try, then lost a man to the sin-bin, too. England, at 14-12 down, gave James Rodwell a chance in the right corner, but Rawaca pulled off a brilliant try-saving tackle.
Fiji blasted to a 21-0 lead against South Africa in the semi-finals, but just managed to hold on 21-15 as South Africa rallied in another thriller.