Day One of the Gold Coast Sevens Fever Pitch Tournament – the opening round of the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series – has ended with host nation Australia qualifying for the quarter finals alongside fellow heavyweights including New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, South Africa and Wales.
The Australian side fell to South Africa in their final match of the opening night at Skilled Park, going down 21-7 after the teams were locked 7-all at the break.
However, two earlier victories had already assured Australia a berth in the final eight of the Cup competition – to be fought out tomorrow (Saturday) between the top two placegetters from each of the four Pools.
Australia opened their Pool B campaign with a comfortable 33-0 victory over Japan, running in five tries, including a double for newcomer Pama Fou.
In their following match against the United States, the Australians fell behind to an early try but recovered to post an impressive 22-7 win. Australian captain Ed Jenkins scored two of his team’s four tries.
South Africa, tested by the United States before recording a five-point victory in their Pool B match, were the Australians’ opponents in the final match of the night and took advantage of uncharacteristic handling mistakes from the home team in the second stanza to seal the win.
Australian vice-captain and playmaker Jacob Taylor, speaking after the match against Japan, said the game provided a young side with opportunity to cut their teeth at international level, and in front of a home crowd of more than 8600.
“We had a few nerves out there but it was a good one to get out of way,” said Taylor.
“We have a few young guys, and they’re not taking a backward step. It was very encouraging the way they went straight into it.
“It’s also the nature of Sevens for Australia. It does unearth a lot of great talent and it’s just great to be part of it here on the Gold Coast.”
Taylor said the Australians were confident they could make a genuine run for the Gold Coast crown.
“It’s the only way we can look at – set ourselves the highest expectations and I’m confident in all the guys we can do that.”
The Australians’ loss to South Africa, however, has sent the home side into a tough quarter final showdown tomorrow with in-form Samoa.
New Zealand confirmed their favouritism for the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens title with impressive Pool A disposals of Kenya (26-5), minnows Niue (38-0) and Fiji (28-5) in one of the feature matches of the opening day.
Samoa was also threatening, cruising into the last eight with wins over France (24-14), Papua New Guinea (38-0) and Argentina (29-0).
The other undefeated pool winners were South Africa and Wales, who downed Tonga 24-7, Scotland 14-12 with a converted try in the dying stages, England 21-7 in an upset.
The Cup quarter final draw for Day Two of the Gold Coast Sevens Fever Pitch tournament will see the following showdowns with semi-final places awaiting the winners:
Quarter Final 1 – New Zealand v England
Quarter Final 2 – Samoa v Australia
Quarter Final 3 – Wales v Fiji
Quarter Final 4 – South Africa v France
Full results from Day One:
Samoa 24 France 14
Argentina 33 Papua New Guinea 0
England 24 Scotland 5
Wales 24 Tonga 7
New Zealand 26 Kenya 5
Fiji 38 Niue 0
South Africa 17 United States 12
Australia 33 Japan 0
Samoa 38 Papua New Guinea 0
France 31 Argentina 14
England 19 Tonga 0
Wales 14 Scotland 12
New Zealand 38 Niue 0
Fiji 26 Kenya 7
South Africa 31 Japan 7
Australia 22 United States 7
France 33 Papua New Guinea 5
Scotland 14 Tonga 12
Kenya 19 Niue 7
USA 21 Japan 0
Samoa 29 Argentina 0
Wales 21 England 7
New Zealand 28 Fiji 5
South Africa 21 Australia 7
The final Pool tables after Day One:
New Zealand 9
South Africa 9
United States 5
Papua New Guinea 3
The inaugural Gold Coast Sevens – Fever Pitch tournament is proudly brought to the Gold Coast through a partnership between ARU, the Queensland Government through Events Queensland and Gold Coast City Council.