New Zealand's domination of world seven-a-side rugby continued today. They won the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens tournament's Ned Haig Cup, beating England 24-14 in the final to repeat last year's Murrayfield success and collect their sixth trophy from the eight of this season's IRB World Series tournaments. But for thrills, spills, and all manner of excitement you had to watch Scotland play seven-a-side rugby on their home turf.
Yesterday they edged through to the Cup quarter-finals with a draw in an incredible match with Argentina, a contest tinted with yellow and red, and this afternoon they had to go deep into the second spell of extra time to secure an historic win against Fiji.New Zealand's domination of world seven-a-side rugby continued today. They won the Emirates Airline Edinburgh Sevens tournament's Ned Haig Cup, beating England 24-14 in the final to repeat last year's Murrayfield success and collect their sixth trophy from the eight of this season's IRB World Series tournaments.
But for thrills, spills, and all manner of excitement you had to watch Scotland play seven-a-side rugby on their home turf. Yesterday they edged through to the Cup quarter-finals with a draw in an incredible match with Argentina, a contest tinted with yellow and red, and this afternoon they had to go deep into the second spell of extra time to secure an historic win against Fiji.
It was Scotland's first win in 16 IRB world series matches against Fiji. The 19-14 victory took them through to their first Plate final in more than three years, and there they met South Africa for the second time in two days. Yesterday the South Africans won by 22-21, and they did it again today, though not so narrowly, taking the Plate with a 14-5 victory.
Scotland were ahead in normal time against Fiji. First, two tapped penalties by Colin Gregor created a try for Mike Adamson, and in the second half Andrew Turnbull shot through a slender gap before stepping inside to score.
Just as vital as those tries, however, was the saving tackle Jim Thompson made Setefano Cakau in Scotland's right corner as the Fijian was about to run in what would have been the deciding score after the clock had run down at the end of the first spell of extra time. If there were to have been a man of the match it would surely have been Thompson for that alone.
Eventually, the semi-final was decided by Ben Addison's try after 12 minutes of extra time. Immediately, Murrayfield erupted!
In the Plate final tries by Fabian Juries and Frankie Horne took South Africa to a 14-0 lead early in the second half. Greig Laidlaw went close just before the interval, held up over the goal-line, but Scotland replied quickly to the Horne try, with Chris Fusaro showing a fair turn of pace to beat two opponents on his way into the right corner.
South Africa then lost Jonathan Mokuena to the sin-bin. He was the fourth Scottish opponent to be shown a yellow card by Welsh referee James Jones, who pulled out two yellows and a red in yesterday's match against Argentina. Scotland could not take advantage of this latest card, though Gregor was denied a late try only through a goal-line knock-on in a tackle.
New Zealand had already won the series trophy before arriving at Murrayfield. They had that in the bag at Twickenham a week ago, but they were still intent on collecting the sixth tournament trophy in the series. After three straight wins yesterday they beat Scotland 36-14 in the quarter-final stage. The Kiwis followed up with a 14-0 win against Samoa, winners of the Twickenham tournament.
Tomasi Cama dominated the scoring for New Zealand in the quarter-final against Scotland with two tries and three conversions. Gregor had all of the Scots' 14 points, equalling the best they have achieved in 19 tournament games against New Zealand.
D J Forbes had both of the New Zealand tries against Samoa in a tight, hard contest, though one that the Kiwis seemed always to have the edge.
Tries by Solomon King, David Smith, and Chad Tuoro set up New Zealand in the final. Smith's was typical of their commitment as he took on three opponents outside the England 22 and burst the triple tackle before scampering in for 19-0. Uche Odouza pulled the margin back before the interval, and Ollie Cook gave England hope early in the second half, Ben Gollings converting both as the score was cut to 19-14. But Nigel Hunt's late try sealed it for New Zealand.
England went through to the final by winning two tight games, scoring just three tries and conceding none in beating South Africa 10-0 and Wales by 7-0. Jack Adams and Kevin Barrett had the tries in the 10-0 win against South Africa, and Collings scored both elements in the 7-0 victory over Wales.
In the other finals Australia won the Bowl against Canada by 24-14 whereas Portugal took the Shield by beating Russia 10-5. Peter Owens sent the Australians on their way with two tries in a 21-0 interval lead.
An historic mark in the annals of global sevens was passed in the course of the Plate quarter-final in which Argentina swept past Russia by 38-0. Included in that score was the try that earned Santiago Gomez Cora the honour of being the first player to reach 1000 IRB World Series points.
However, not for long was Gomez Cora alone in the millennium club. Less than two hours later Uale Mai reached four figures with a try in Samoa's 17-10 victory against Fiji in a Cup quarter-final.
Over the two days the tournament tasted the vagaries of Scottish weather. Yesterday was as brilliant as any day could be in this country, but today's rugby started in overcast weather. Before long, the rain came, and the skies poured for the remainder of the day. But the weather could not subdue the entertainment, either in the stadium or on the back pitches, where the Martin Currie Festival of Rugby continued with its variety for all ages.