Aussies open account in Hong Kong

by Jill Scanlon

Australia has won its first Pool A match at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens defeating Samoa 22-19.

The opening game of the tournament followed a colourful and iconic official Opening Ceremony with two long dragons winding across the field amid a parade of 16 flags for each of the competing nations.

Hong Kong is the 50th tournament for Aussie sevens veteran Ed Jenkins and he was typically in the middle of all the action.

It was a close tussle with Australia getting on the scoreboard first through Henry Hutchison, who returned to his favoured pinpoint dive into the corner.

Samoa answered quickly but Boyd Killingworth marked his return to World Series competition with a second try for the Aussies giving them a three point lead at half-time 10-7.

Hutchison is obviously enjoying his return to familiar territory out on the wing as he scored again in the corner early in the second half.

John Porch then raced behind Stannard and Jenkins in support of the contest, picked up the ball and ran it in for Australia’s fourth.

As the game looked to be done with a healthy lead for the Aussies, Lafaele Vaa closed the gap to ten points.

As the full-time siren sounded, play restarted and Samoa added yet another through young Gordon Langkilde and the final score was much closer than the Aussies would perhaps have liked, finishing at 22-19 as the whistle blew for full-time.

Coach Andy Friend was pleased overall with the team’s first outing.

“It’s been a good week. It was always going to be a tough game that one and I’m really pleased to have that win, it means the preparation has been right,” he said.

We knew Samoa would come out strong and I think we played very well to beat them.

Australia will take on Korea and England tomorrow to complete the pool round with a quarter-final berth definitely in their sights although the coach is not underestimating the unknown quantity that is South Korea.

“What’s important is that we don’t take South Korea lightly. We need to respect them and come out and play our brand of football and build on our performance. We will look at England after that.”

Other Results 

The end of Day One saw the usual suspects posting wins after the opening games of the Pool round.

England, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, USA and Argentina each got three points, but it was not an easy run for every team.

New Zealand was challenged by Wales in the first half while France pushed series leaders South Africa to the final siren before going down by one converted try.

The first day highlights were more about history than results.

Three players have celebrated the milestone of 50 tournament caps - Australia's Ed Jenkins, Canada's Nathan Hiryama  and South Africa's Cecil Afrika - while England's captain Tom Mitchell has joined the 100 tries club.

Most significantly, Dan Norton became the greatest All-Time Try Scorer in sevens history with 245 tries, surpassing Collins Injera's long-held record.

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.