Scots Edge Into Last Eight With Dramatic Draw

Scotland qualified for the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens Cup quarter-finals by drawing 17-all with Argentina in a dramatic final match in the pool stage this evening. Two tries by Richie Vernon and one by Greig Laidlaw took the host country through after Argentina had gone 10-7 ahead early in the second half. But in overcoming that deficit the Scots were helped by the Argentinians' incredible indiscipline. At one stage Argentina were down to four men after two yellow cards and a red by Welsh referee James Jones.

Scotland qualified for the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens Cup quarter-finals by drawing 17-all with Argentina in a dramatic final match in the pool stage this evening.

Two tries by Richie Vernon and one by Greig Laidlaw took the host country through after Argentina had gone 10-7 ahead early in the second half. But in overcoming that deficit the Scots were helped by the Argentinians' incredible indiscipline. At one stage Argentina were down to four men after two yellow cards and a red by Welsh referee James Jones. Laidlaw restored the Scots' lead after Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and Pablo Gomez Cora had been sin-binned, and Vernon went on for his second following the Tomas Passerotti's dismissal for an apparent head-but. Scotland could not hold on for the win. But a draw was enough for them, not for Argentina.

Tomorrow Scotland have to take on New Zealand in the last for the quarter-finals. It will be a tough one against the country who have dominated the dominated the IRB's 2007-2008 Sevens World Series. New Zealand have five of the seven tournaments so far, and they clinched the series championship at Twickenham last week.

Today the Kiwis racked up 94 points in winning all three of their matches. But Fiji, seeking their first trophy of the series, did better than that, with 132 points over their three wins.

Wales also won all three matches in qualifying for the cup quarter-finals tomorrow, finishing off their pool-stage schedule with a 24-14 win against Samoa, winners of the tournament trophy at Twickenham last week.

Samoa still qualified for the cup last eight. So did England, France, and South Africa as well as Scotland. Cup quarter-finals tomorrow:

New Zealand v Scotland (11:43)
Fiji v Samoa (12:05)
Wales v France (12:27)
South Africa v England (12:49)

New Zealand were nearly halfway through their third tie of the day before they conceded a try. It was not just one, but two in a row as Ben Gollings and Jack Adams put England 12-7 up against the Kiwis early in the second half.

Chad Tuoro, however, then led the way for a third New Zealand victory of the day. He was up for a try from David Smith's long run, and then, nonchalantly, almost lazily, Tuoro opened the door inside his own 22 with a break that led to the Tim Mikkelson try saw England off. It was revenge for defeat by England in the Twickenham tournament last week.

Scotland's day opened with a record score. Their 33-7 win was their best total in any seven-a-side game against Australia. But the Scotland then lost to South Africa with a last kick penalty goal. A win then would have sent Scotland through to the quarter-finals regardless of the result against Argentina. Instead, the Scots - players and support - had to wait for the final match of the day.

To achieve their win against Australia the Scots had to set their minds against the loss of a first-half penalty try. Such was their resolve that they immediately responded with an Andrew Turnbull try for a 14-7 lead at the interval. They then fired in three quick scores in the second half.

Jim Thompson scored the first in each half, the second of them made out of almost nothing inside his own half. Somehow he found space before sprinting all the way to the posts. Vernon then handed off two Australians to score the Scots' fourth try, and winning the restart ball was the key to the final score, with Vernon setting Colin Gregor up to add to a try to his four earlier conversions.

Scotland's national squad - gathering before their two-match tour to Argentina - arrived at Murrayfield in time to form a guard of honour for the start of their seven-a-side compatriots' second tie. The presence of the "big guns" seemed to inspire the Scottish seven for tries by Colin Shaw and Thompson, both from break-outs after South African pressure.

A Danwel Demas try pulled the Scots' lead back to 14-7 at the interval. But the hosts started the second half by going two maximum scores clear again, Turnbull finishing off with a clever hesitation to wrong-foot Demas before diving over in the left corner. Gregor kicked his third conversion, but South Africa struck back with two tries, including a second by Demas. Stefan Basson missed the final conversion, and Scotland seemed to have survived with a 21-19 win that would have sent them through into the Cup quarter-finals tomorrow. But time was still left for Basson to strike a cruel blow for the Scots by drop kicking a penalty goal from more than 30 metres to give the South Africans a one-point victory.

Soon after Scotland's win against Australia the home support had two other names cheer & even though they had probably never heard of Evgeniy Matveev or Nikolay Shugay. That pair gave Russia a 12-0 interval lead against England. The crowd's response to those tries perhaps gave the Russians a hint of some sort of history between the nations divided by the Cheviots!

England responded through Ollie Phillips, Tom Youngs, and Uche Odouza to lead 17-12. But Russia were not finished as an Igor Galinovsky try earned a draw. It would have been a Russian win if Yury Kushnarev had not missed the conversion.

Moldova, who made their IRB series debut at Twickenham last week, also found favour with the home support, especially when they threatened to prevent Fiji from having a clean sheet. That Moldavian threat was overturned with Timoci Matanavou sprinting from all the way from own goal-line to score his second try of the tie. Undoubtedly, the longest run of the day!

However, Moldova were not to be denied as Alexandr Bulgac eventually went over. The cheer was as much for perseverance as for the score itself. But that try did not hinder Fiji on their way to a half-century.

A blazing day, with almost cloudless skies that could have been stolen from the Mediterranean, drew a crowd of 11, 692 to Murrayfield, where not all the action was confined to inside the stadium. The back pitches were alive, with the first day of the Martin Currie Festival of Rugby.

There, too, the Calcutta Cup was on display, as it will be tomorrow, the second day of the Murrayfield rugby feast that is spread across a wide table from primary schoolchildren learning game to those who have tasted the delights of winning world championships.