All you need to know about Australia in Hong Kong

by Jill Scanlon

The Hong Kong Sevens kicks off on Friday and Australia will be looking to repeat last year’s feat of making it to the semi-finals.

In 2016, the Aussies had a good win over England in their quarter-final but lost the semi to eventual champions Fiji, ultimately finishing fourth after a two-point loss at the hands of South Africa.

Will we see some upsets at this, the most prestigious of the World Rugby Sevens events?

Hong Kong in all its glory

Eagerly anticipated each year, Hong Kong is the highlight of the Sevens calendar.

The city becomes the home to a week of rugby festivities where aside from the main competition at Hong Kong Stadium, there are also the men’s and women’s World Series qualifying tournaments where the prizes are the much sought after spots in the core series next year.

And if Sevens is not enough for you, there is also the highly entertaining Rugby Tens tournament.

POOL A 

England, Australia, Samoa, Korea

Australia will have to contend with the physicality and unpredictability of Samoa in its first Pool A game - the opening game of the tournament - on Friday night.

On Saturday, the Aussies take on the unknown quantity of Korea, who come into the tournament as the 16th team, before the big battle when Australia meets Vancouver champions England in its final match of the group round.

England has become the biggest threat in the competition next to South Africa, having won two of the six rounds so far – both times defeating the Series leader - and the sheer number of English ex-pats in Hong Kong tends to put the crowd in their favour.

POOL B

South Africa, Canada, Kenya, France

South Africa may have had some significant changes in its line-up for this tournament, with the departures of Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith to Super Rugby, compounded by the loss of Roscko Specman, Stephan Dippenaar and Justin Geduld to injury.

Coach Neil Powell has the advantage of a deep list but the forced changes may bring with them some vulnerability.

Canada, France and Kenya should each be able to challenge the Blitzboks but are unlikely to overcome them. The interest will be in the battle for second place and a top eight position at the end of day two.

POOL C

Fiji, New Zealand, Wales, Japan

The 2016 World and Olympic champion Fiji loves this tournament and will be attempting to win its third consecutive Hong Kong Sevens title.

New Zealand only lost one game in Vancouver but it was the crucial one - the quarter-final to England. So a fifth place finish was the best outcome and it would be wrong to underestimate the Kiwis in Hong Kong.

Wales will be the team to watch in this group, with the capability to reach the final eight despite an inconsistent run through the series to date.

Wales was unlucky not to make it through in Canada, pipped on point difference by Argentina for a quarter-final spot.

Japan will again need to gain as many points as possible to avoid relegation from the core group as the teams enter the last few tournaments of the series.

POOL D

USA, Argentina, Scotland, Russia.

This group is perhaps the most unpredictable.

USA is the big mover of the series having reached the top four in the last two rounds.

Argentina performed well in Vancouver where only a couple of points were the difference between winning and losing crucial games.

Scotland is the enigma - the Scots have had trouble stringing together any consistent performances since Sydney after starting the series well.

Russia is battling to stay above Japan at the bottom of the standings to avoid relegation next season and while it certainly can be unpredictable on its day, Russia should not trouble opponents in this group.

England the favourites in Pool A of the Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: World Rugby

Draw

Hong Kong Sevens fixtures - Aussie Sevens

Day one - Friday April 7

Australia vs Samoa  - 8pm AEST

LIVE day one coverage on FOX SPORTS ONE 501 begins 7.40pm AEST with Opening Ceremony

Day two  - Saturday April 8

Australia vs South Korea -  1:18pm AEST

Australia vs England 5:40pm AEST

Day two LIVE on FOX SPORTS ONE 501 from 10:50am - 3:10pm AEST, delayed coverage starting on Saturday with Australia vs England at 6pm AEST on FOX SPORTS 506 and LIVE from 6:20pm AEST.

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