Sevens World Series: Fiji stop Scotland progress

THE Scotland Sevens squad continued their upwards movement in Dubai by reaching the cup quarter-finals in the desert leg of the HSBC World Series, while Jason White’s team reigned supreme in the veterans tens event.

Edinburghs Lee Jones made a welcome return to the Scotland seven and was influential in their improvement. Picture: Getty
Edinburghs Lee Jones made a welcome return to the Scotland seven and was influential in their improvement. Picture: Getty

The Dubai “sevens in the desert” tournament provided a thrilling encounter all round, with Fiji producing a historic eight-try demolition of New Zealand in the semi-finals, and Scotland feeling slightly better about having lost to the Fijians narrowly in the previous round.

Fiji went on to win the tournament with a 29-17 victory over South Africa.

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The Scotland sevens squad had welcomed back Edinburgh and Scotland wing Lee Jones as well as captain Colin Gregor, and both players were influential as Scotland defeated Australia and Spain on Friday to progress to the knockout rounds of the main event.

But a loss to Wales in the pool left them facing former World Series Champions Fiji in the last eight, when they repeated the fault of the previous day in letting sides take the initiative and post early tries, Semi Kunatani and Donasio Ratubuli before half-time and Samisoni Viriviri straight after. They came back with superb scores from Gregor Young and John Houston, but as the game hung in the balance, the South Sea Islanders pounced on an error to go the length of the field and score through Viriviri to break Scots hearts.

Scotland were back out for the Plate semi-final later, but lost that winnable game 12-5 to Argentina, despite Lee Jones opening the scoring, confirming a seventh place finish, though Scotland’s Colin Gregor ended as the tournament’s highest scorer with 40 points.

The Xodus Steelers legends team took to the field for the Invitation Veterans Tens final and they produced a similarly dramatic finish, but one that went the Scots’ way..

The Steelers had not conceded a point through their three pool games, quarter and semi-finals, but they came up against a strong J9 Legends, representing Joost van der Westhuizen’s motor neurone disease charity, that included All Black Carlos Spencer, Waisale Serevi, Apollo Perellini and De Wet Barry.

The scores see-sawed, with Thinus Delport and Keith Lowen scoring for the Steelers and Barry and Norman Jordaan getting over for J9, the latter score coming after the hooter, while the Steelers lost Ralph and Gav Kerr to yellow cards.

Serevi converted from the touchline, to lead 14-12, and J9 hearing the hooter, thought they had won. But in tens they play ten minutes, the referee waved them on, and in the final play of the match former Scotland centre Andy Craig broke on the left to dive infor a repeat of last year’s last-minute victory.

Steelers skipper Jason White admitted: “That was hard work, and I thought we were down and out there, and then you see Andy Craig showing he has lost none of his pace. These guys are still very competitive and we stuck to our guns to the end and we’re absolutely delighted to win the trophy again.”