Teams jostling for big finish in penultimate World Series leg

by Jill Scanlon

The HSBC Paris Sevens is the penultimate leg of the 2016/2017 World Series and many teams will be looking to make a statement ahead of the final weekend in London.

Singapore Sevens again was a tournament which produced some surprise results and it will be interesting to see whether the form shown by some in round eight was a precursor of things to come in the run to the finish line.

Samoa defeated Fiji in Paris last year to take the title – its first since 2012 - but it is hard to see a repeat of that scenario occurring this weekend as the Blitzboks will be determined to put the overall championship result beyond doubt.

POOL A 

Canada, South Africa, Scotland, Japan

Canada is riding high after an historic inaugural title win in Singapore and will be keen to make sure it is not viewed as a one-off.


It will however need to be wary of South Africa which finished an uncharacteristic sixth in the last tournament, looking to return to top form aided by the return of playmaker Rosko Specman.

Scotland is desperate to get back on the winners list with less than impressive performances through the latter half of the series, underlined by the three losses in the pool round in Singapore. With two rounds to go it will now be a matter of salvaging some pride.

Japan must put significant wins on the board in these final two rounds if it has any chance of avoiding relegation ahead of Russia.

POOL B

USA, New Zealand, Wales, Argentina

The USA will be aiming to make the final game of the weekend again but go one step further than in Singapore where they lost the final to a rampaging Canada.

The Kiwis have injury headaches but will still be hoping to improve on their three fifth placings in the past three tournaments and hold on to fourth place in the overall standings.

Argentina will not want to repeat the performance from Singapore where it finished 14th, its worst result of the season.

Wales however, while having a disappointing run through this series, finished with the Challenge Trophy title in Singapore and will be looking to take the next step into the top eight for day two in Paris.

This could be the group to watch for some interesting results.

POOL C

England, Kenya, France, Spain

England took the bronze medal over Australia in the last round and will want to go the extra step on day two with a home tournament looming to finish the Series.

Collins Injera is out for Kenya and it will be interesting to see if this makes a significant difference to the Africans who have a strong chance of making it to the quarter finals.

France is having a horror run, not finishing better than 10th in the past five tournaments, and it’s hard to see it as a threat in this pool.

However, with the announcement of the impending retirement of France's sevens legend, Julien Candelon, the hosts may find an extra gear in front of their home crowd.

Spain is the invitational 16th team for these two final European rounds and will continue its impressive development from having the opportunity to play at this level.

POOL D

Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Russia

The Aussies will take another youthful line-up into this tournament but, as they have shown so far this season, are not to be underestimated on that basis and will be feeling confident off the back of the last two top four finishes.

Samoa is the reigning champion from 2016 in Paris having defeated Fiji in the final. On current form, a repeat of that effort will be a big ask but never out of the question in Sevens.

Russia can surprise opposition from game to game but has not shown top eight form at all this season and should not trouble this group by the end of day one.

Fiji will be the team to determine the shape of Pool D. Its seventh place in Singapore will not have sat well with the proud champions and they will come out determined to again reach the Paris final but this time, take the big prize.

FIXTURE

HSBC Sevens World Series, Paris  

Pool Round - Saturday 13 May

Australia v Russia  6.22pm AEST

Australia v Samoa 9.48pm AEST

Australia v Fiji  Sunday 1.14am AEST

LIVE coverage on Fox Sports begins on Ch503 at 5.50pm – 7.30pm; then on Ch501 9.45pm - 10.30pm and Ch503 10.30pm - 4.30am  

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