Scots seven squeeze though to London Series quarter-finals

Hugh Blake tries to burst past Santiago Mare and Jose Barros Sosa in the 26-19 win over Argentina.  Photograph: Paul Harding/PA
Hugh Blake tries to burst past Santiago Mare and Jose Barros Sosa in the 26-19 win over Argentina. Photograph: Paul Harding/PA
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Scotland made a stuttering start to the defence of the HSBC London Series Sevens tournament that they won this time last year.

Callum McRae’s side progress to the cup quarter-finals, where they will face New Zealand today, but only after losing the third match in yesterday’s pool stage and finishing second to Argentina.

The Scots got off to a flyer with a 21-7 victory over Russia, a team which had already beaten them this season.

They then faced Argentina, who had already humbled France and who scored good tries at the start of each half.

The Scots pulled up their socks and countered with tries from George Horne in the first 40, Mark Robertson who kicked ahead and won the chase to the ball, and flyer James Fleming after the break.

When Argentina made a mess of their own lineout around their own 22-metre line the Scots regained possession through Robertson, who offloaded to Joe Nayacavou in the blink of an eye for Scotland’s favourite Fijian to score what proved to be the winner.

Argentina got a late score but still finished seven points behind the Scots, who were 26-19 winners.

Scotland had looked composed up to that point but they lost much of that sangfroid in the third tie of the day against France, losing 17-12.

This opposition can blow hot and cold. They leaked 35 points to Argentina but, with an outside sniff of the quarters, France were much improved against the Scots and ran out deserved winners, by three tries to two, despite the loss of one man to the sin bin.

The Scots could afford to lose by 21 points and still qualify so they went through but coach McRae won’t have been happy with their final performance of the afternoon, when his team failed to look after the ball and were a little careless in their defensive duties.

France opened with the first two tries, one from a long-range burst, the second from an interception following a loose pass.

The Scots hit back with tries from Robertson and Horne either side of the half-time break but the French flyer Pierre Popelin picked a good line between Jamie Farndale and Scott Wight to score the second-half winner for Les Bleus.

Even then the Scots had two opportunities to hit back but lost the ball and failed to close this one out.

Elsewhere, Fiji continue to struggle, falling to Canada and going out of the main competition after losing to New Zealand in an action-packed match that saw two yellow cards issued.

Hosts England progressed after besting Australia and Samoa, but only in the final play of the final game of the day.

South Africa, who have the series wrapped up already, struggled past Wales and Kenya, winning both matches by the margin of just one conversion, before losing to the USA, who topped the pool. South Africa play England today.