Portugal shatter England's bid for Dubai Rugby Sevens hat-trick

Favourites Fiji and New Zealand end day one with perfect record

Portugal shattered England's bid for a hat-trick at the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens with a sensational 22-21 victory on a day of drama at The Sevens on Friday.

England, who finished third in last year's HSBC Sevens World Series, missed out on a place in the Cup quarters for a second successive round, along with South Africa and Australia.

It's the first time South Africa have failed to reach the Cup quarter-finals in the Series since way back in 2001 in Wellington.

Canada and Portugal, two of the three new core teams on this season's Series, joined the top seeds in the cup competition and face Kenya and New Zealand respectively.
 
The current Series leaders Fiji, as well as second placed New Zealand, ended day one with a perfect record and await France, whilst Wales play Samoa in the Cup.

As the gates opened so did the heavens, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands of fans that turned up to watch the cream of the rugby sevens world take the field.

The opening game of the day saw Canada comprehensively beat last year’s finalists France 20-0.

Another upset was averted in the second game of the day when Australia narrowly beat the USA, 19-12, with a last gasp try and conversion.

Series leaders Fiji defeated Dubai debutants Spain in a somewhat routine 14-0 victory in the third game of the day.

The Kenyans also picked up where they left off at the Gold Coast Sevens, beating Scotland 12-5 in their opening game of the tournament.

Series champions New Zealand were slow out of the blocks against Wales, but ultimately showed why they are among the favourites to lift the Cup this weekend with a 14-7 win.
 
Argentina beat the only non-seeded IRB team, Russia, 17-10 before the game of the morning: England vs South Africa.

South Africa crossed the line first, but they suffered a blow when captain Kyle Brown was stretchered off with a serious leg injury.

Defending their Dubai title, England responded but trailed by two points at half time. Despite flyer Dan Norton going over in the corner in the second half, England eventually lost 19-10.

In the following game, Samoa set the pace early against Portugal and scored one of the fastest tries ever seen on the Sevens circuit through Lio Lolo, who touched down after just 16 seconds.
 
But Portugal fought back and contributed to the game of the tournament so far, which see-sawed back and forth until the final moments when Lolo crossed the whitewash for his third try of the game, ensuring a 24-19 win for his side. 

The first ever game of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series also took place on Pitch 1 and Pitch 2 , with Australia kicking things off with a 24-12 victory over the Netherlands.

The women’s game of the morning was a shock defeat for last year’s Dubai Challenge winners Canada, who were beaten 15-12 by Russia.

In one of the most dramatic matches in recent memory Portugal defeated England 22-21 in the 'pool of death', thanks to a Pedro Leal penalty goal seconds before the siren, to send them through to the Cup quarter-finals.

Led through the brilliance of Dan Norton, England bounced back to defeat Samoa 19-17 and keep their Cup quarter-final dreams alive after losing to South Africa.

Lolo notched up a hat-trick as Samoa saw off the impressive Portugal 24-19 with a late try.

But Portugal turned pool C on its head when they scored a try through their giant No.1 Aderito Esteves after the siren to upset South Africa 12-10.

In the final round of matches Portugal then sneaked past England while Samoa were too strong for South Africa 10-5.

England take on Argentina in the Bowl quarter-finals while South Africa will face Russia in the Bowl play-offs.

Kenya and Fiji both booked their places in the Cup quarter-finals with victories early in the day against Scotland and Spain in pool A.

Gold Coast champions Fiji were made to work hard by Spain before winning 14-0 thanks to tries from Setefano Cakau and Maleli Belolevu Bula and Scotland 22-14.

Two tries to Kenyan flyer Collins Injera saw Kenya run out winners in their opening match over a determined Scotland 12-5, after the Scots led early through a try to Michael Fedo. In their second match Kenya barely edged out Spain 10-7.

Spain then beat Scotland 12-7 thanks to a late try on the siren through Matias Tudela. While in the pool decider Fiji defeated Kenya 14-10.

Fiji now face France in the Cup quarter-finals while Kenya face Canada in their Cup quarter-final. In the Bowl, Spain will face the USA while Scotland will play Australia.
 
Wales claimed their spot in the Cup quarter-finals with a commanding 22-5 win over Russia in their final pool B match with captain Rhys Shellard crossing for a hat-trick.

But the group belonged to the All Blacks Sevens who remained unbeaten on day one with wins over Wales, Russia and Argentina (17-7) in their final match.

Earlier on, in slippery conditions, with the rain pouring down, New Zealand showed their class to overcome an early Ifan Evans try for Wales to score a 14-7 victory thanks to second half tries to Tomasi Cama and Kurt Baker.

A late try to Francisco Merello saw Argentina win 17-10 in their opening game against a committed Russian team who scored tries through Vladislav Lazarenko and Denis Simplikevich. Simplikevich was impressive on the day, finishing among the top try scorers with three tries.

In the other pool match Russia threatened briefly to pull off a major upset before late tries to Cama and Milford Keresoma saw New Zealand defeat them 31-14.

New Zealand were one of only three undefeated teams on day one, along with Canada and Fiji, and they will face giant killers Portugal in the Cup quarter-finals while Wales will face Samoa in the Cup Quarters.

Russia will go through to the Bowl where they face a tough assignment against South Africa.

The game of the day saw Canada and Australia tie 28-28 in an enthralling pool D encounter. Justin Douglas levelled for Geraint John's side as the buzzer sounded, completing a superb comeback from 28-14 down with less than two minutes remaining.

Canada then confirmed their place in the Cup quarter-finals with a strong 26-7 win over the USA in difficult conditions in the final pool match.

France bounced back from their loss to Canada with a hard fought 17-14 victory over the USA Eagles thanks to Renaud Delmas' try.

France beat Australia 7-0 in a tight match to join Canada in the Cup quarter finals.

Saturday evening will see a ceremonial handover of the Rugby Sevens World Cup to the Russia Rugby Union, from the UAE Rugby Federation (UAERF).

Dubai was the last nation to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009 and Russia is set to host the competition in 2013.

Emirates’ President Group Services & dnata, Gary Chapman, and Mohammed Falaknaz, Chairman of the UAERF, Mohammed Falaknaz will be part of a group to present the trophy to the Vice-President of the Rugby Union of Russia at 6.30pm.   

Results:

Pool A

Fiji 14 Spain 0
Kenya 12 Scotland 5
Fiji 22 Scotland 14
Kenya 10 Spain 7
Spain 12 Scotland 7
Fiji 14 Kenya 10

Pool B
New Zealand 14 Wales 7
Argentina 17 Russia 10
New Zealand 31 Russia 14
Argentina 7 Wales 14
Wales 22 Russia 5
New Zealand 17 Argentina 7

Pool C
South Africa 19 England 10
Samoa 24 Portugal 19
South Africa 10 Portugal 12
Samoa 17 England 19
England 21 Portugal 22
South Africa 5 Samoa 10

Pool D
Canada 20 France 0
Australia 19 USA 12
France 17 USA 14
Canada 28 Australia 28
Canada 26 USA 7
France 7 Australia 0

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