Improvements evident but Scots exit at Cape quarters
Scotland 7s’ improved showing in the Cape Town leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series came to an end in the cup quarter-final at the hands of tournament winners New Zealand.
Ciaran Beattie’s men bounced back from their opening leg disappointment in Dubai to make their first cup quarter-final of the 2019/20 season in the South African stage two.
Wins over England and Spain propelled Scotland into the last four where they would meet the tournament favourites, New Zealand.
Errors in the opening exchanges undermined the Scots’ efforts to get a foothold in the game, conceding three unanswered scores at the sticks to trail 21-0 at the interval.
Scotland were looking down the barrel when the Kiwis scored again after the half, making it 28-0, with New Zealand’s Kurt Baker playing a typically imposing role.
It was then, however, that Scotland managed to better retain some of their possession, getting some change out of their physicality and direct running.
Scotland cap Dougie Fife latched on to a dropped ball around the half and raced the length of the field to score the team's first try of the match.
Baker crossed for his hat-trick before Scott Bickerstaff and Sam Pecquer got in on the act, the latter finishing in the tournament’s top-ten try scorers to bring the game to 34-19 at the hooter.
The revised format of the tournament meant that was all she wrote for Scotland on day two, however their improved showing gave cause for optimism from Head Coach Beattie.
He said: “We were disappointed with the results last week but we weren’t far away. This week we showed the five percent growth we were looking for.
“It was nice that we came out on the right side in the England game. Against France our discipline let us down but we were still within a score – having played half the game with six men – and they’re now in the bronze medal match.
“We’re still disappointed with the last game [loss to NZ]. You can’t give a team like New Zealand a 21-0 head start but bringing it back to 35-19 – winning the second-half – was positive.
“It's good to reach the cup quarters but, off the back of it, there’s disappointment because there’s a real belief we’re able to compete at the top end. That’s where we want to be.”