Scotland pipped in Wellington Sevens semis

Scotland reached the semi-finals of the Wellington Sevens. Picture: Getty
Scotland reached the semi-finals of the Wellington Sevens. Picture: Getty
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The Scotland sevens team matched their best ever performance in a World Series event by finishing fourth in the Wellington Sevens in New Zealand yesterday.

It was the fourth time the Scots had reached a Cup semi-final and they were unlucky to lose to England who scored a last-minute to win 24-19. The English went on to lose to hosts New Zealand in the final while the Scots were thumped 40-5 by South Africa in the third-fourth place play-off.

In what was the second day of the tournament, Scotland recorded an excellent 19-15 win over the United States in the quarter-finals.

With just two minutes left on the clock the Scots trailled 15-0 against the US. But tries from James Johnstone and a brace from James Fleming, bolstered by two conversions from Scott Wight, saw them seal the victory and progress to the semi-final.

Against England, Scotland came out the blocks full of confidence and scored three tries within five minutes. First Damien Hoyland scored his seventh score of the weekend, before Johnstone boasted impressive foot work to score a try of his own and set up Wight with a third try.

Just before the break England’s Jeff Williams put England on the scoreboard, making it 19-5 at half-time. The second half saw England dominate. First James Rodwell scored, then captain Tom Mitchell, before Charlie Hayter touched down for the winning try.

The day ended with a heavy defeat to a very physical South Africa side. Despite, an early try from Fleming that put the Scots in front, their opponents stepped up a gear and six tries ensued.

Despite this set-back, Scotland head coach Calum MacRae said: “I’m very proud of the character shown by our group of players this weekend. We scored some great tries and it’s pleasing that the tournament’s top try scorer was a Scot. Damien Hoyland continues to get better and sevens tries shows that.”

The Scots, who now sit seventh in the competition rankings, travel to Las Vegas for the fifth leg of the circuit, which will take place next weekend and where they will meet Australia, France and Brazil.

In the Wellington final, schoolboy Rieko Ioane scored two tries as New Zealand beat England 27-21.

The All Blacks outscored England five tries to three to post their first tournament win in four World Series rounds this season and to rise to second place behind South Africa on the Series standings. South Africa retain the Series lead.

New Zealand had beaten England 24-5 in pool play and their win in the final was equally emphatic.

Dylan Collier and Gillies Kaka scored tries that gave New Zealand an early 10-0 lead. England replied with a try from Marcus Watson that cut the lead to 10-7 when New Zealand were reduced to six men by the sin-binning of Joe Webber.

Ioane’s fifth try of the tournament gave the hosts a 15-7 lead at half-time and they put the match beyond England’s grasp with tries to Scott Curry and Ioane early in the second half.

England captain Mitchell and veteran John Brake scored late tries for England to make the scoreline respectable.

New Zealand, who lost captain DJ Forbes to injury on the opening day after the earlier loss of their best player, Tim Mikkelson, were unbeaten in the pool stage.

They then beat Australia 26-7 in the quarter-finals and South Africa 17-7 in the semi-finals, clinching that win with a late try from Ioane who scored six tries at the tournament, one fewer than Hoyland.