Scotland 7s have finished seventh in the Glasgow 2014 Rugby Sevens event, in front of a capacity crowd at Ibrox Stadium, following a tough second day of competition.
A world record attendance of 171,000 supporters turned out across four sessions during the weekend, making Glasgow 2014 the biggest rugby sevens crowd ever at one event.
The Scots were unable to back-up their strong performances on Saturday (26 July) and keep their medal hopes alive after losing out to South Africa, 35-12, on Sunday (27 July) afternoon.
The Scots then moved into a sixth to eighth place play-off with the Auld Enemy, England, both of whom were looking to restore their pride. However, despite a last ditch run from Stuart Hogg in this match, the Scots were overcome, 15-12.
Throughout the weekend the stand-out players for the host nation were Mark Bennett and Lee Jones. Bennett put in five fantastic displays in attack and defence, reinforcing his promise as the rising star of Scottish rugby.
Jones managed to match his try count from Delhi four years ago, with seven tries throughout the weekend, making him the Scots’ top finisher.
Scotland 7s head coach, Stephen Gemmell, who will now step down from his role with the abbreviated national team, as planned, said: "I know the players have given everything this weekend and it has been a massive honour for me to lead them at a home Games.
The atmosphere, all weekend, has been unbelievable, thank you to the very noisy Scottish support who never gave up on us. However, we have been beaten by small margins today and we have done too little too late.
“You can’t give teams like England and South Africa a three-try lead before starting to play and that has led to us being punished for our errors today. In the short game you need to create momentum to progress and we have been unable to achieve that.
“I hope Scotland 7s can build from here as they now look to the 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series and the Glasgow 7s next [9-10] May. With a capacity crowd throughout the weekend I’m sure the Commonwealth Games will do wonders for the short game in Scotland.
As I move back into my development role at Scottish Rugby I will continue to be a strong advocate for the game of sevens. You just have to look at the likes of Mark [Bennett], Lee [Jones] and James [Eddie], among others to see how sevens benefits their XVs.”
A hesitant start from Scotland saw South Africa get their foot in the scoring door first, as Cornal Hendricks collected a Kyle Brown pass to touch down within the first minute. The conversion from Branco du Preez was swiftly followed by a try and a further conversion from him, and another five-pointer from Seabelo Senatla. Sustained pressure from Bennett, who possibly should have backed himself in the passage of play immediately before, saw him cross the line on the buzzer, after a tremendous offload from Scott Riddell. Colin Gregor converted to make it 7-21 at half time.
Bennett, having given his all for the score, was replaced by Stuart Hogg at half-time. A good phase of hands across the park saw Richie Vernon break through the defence and offload to Jones who wasted no time crossing for his 13 Commonwealth try, across two Games. At 12-21 with five minutes on the clock anything was possible but South Africa defended to a man and managed to cross twice more, through Senatla and Cecil Afrika, before the final whistle put an end to Scotland's medal hopes.
It was another shaky start to the England match and Scotland conceded three tries without answer, from Christian Lewis-Pratt, Tom Powell and Dan Norton, in the first half. They then fought back and came within seconds of victory in the second seven minutes.
Despite some heroic tackling from Bennett, England scored into the third minute and took command of the game for the opening period, adding another two unconverted tries as the Scots failed to find their finishing touch.
James Eddie was on the front foot at the restart but despite good numbers, the pass was fumbled. As the ball was recycled and passed out wide it was Bennett who turned up the gas to flaming hot as he flew down the wing and almost got to the line, felled just yards short. Undaunted, he stole ball, tapped the penalty and crossed the line.
With England's Norton yellow carded for infringement at the breakdown, Scotland seized their chance after a fumbled pass and spilled ball was scooped up and sped over the whitewash by Jones, this time converted successfully by Gregor. At 12-15, with the extra man for another minute and over three minutes of play left, it was still game on for the Scots. The ball swept up and down the field as the Scots pressed and England defended.
Eventually the break came, when Stuart Hogg collected the pass and stepped up to the mark, outpacing the majority of the oncoming defenders as the buzzer sounded. However with just metres to go, the tackle came from Norton, the ball was knocked on and it was all over.
Scotland 7s will next be in action in Manchester (13-14 September) and Bucharest (20-21 September) in the FIRA-AER European Grand Prix Sevens Series in September, where they will be led for the first time by new head coach, Calum MacRae.
They will then move onto the 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series, which opens, on the Gold Coast, Australia on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 October. Sevens will then return to Glasgow for the fourth Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 May 2015.
Scotland 12-35 South Africa (medal quarter-final)
Scotland 12-15 England (5th-8th play-off)
Day one (Pool A)
Scotland 14-17 New Zealand
Scotland 56-0 Barbados
Scotland 21-5 Canada
Scotland 7s squad who competed as part of Team Scotland, during Glasgow 2014, on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July at Ibrox Stadium: Richie Vernon, James Eddie (both Glasgow Warriors), James Johnstone (Scotland 7s), Roddy Grant (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Riddell, Colin Shaw (both Scotland 7s), Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors), Colin Gregor, Scott Wight (both Scotland 7s), Mark Bennett, Sean Lamont and Stuart Hogg (all Glasgow Warriors).