Thrilling comeback sends Scotland 7s to World Cup Quarter Finals
Scotland reached the Rugby World Cup Sevens Quarter Finals with a thrilling comeback victory over Kenya in San Francisco.
Five tries in the final five minutes reversed a 26-0 deficit against the Kenyans, Jamie Farndale scoring in time added on to take the game 31-26.
With a large Scottish contingent cheering them on at AT&T Park, Scotland started the match brightly and an early Scott Riddell turnover displayed their intent.
Jamie Farndale was bundled into touch after some nice build up play and it seemed a matter of time before John Dalziel’s men took the lead.
However, it was their opponents who opened the scoring, finishing off a breathless period of play after a brutal opening five minutes.
Kenya added a second before the break again from distance and Scotland had every right to feel aggrieved to be behind at half time.
The Kenyans had beaten Tonga earlier in the day to qualify for the last 16 and their match readiness could be seen early in the second half, two tries off the back of Scottish errors looked to put the tie to bed.
Scotland weren’t going to go down without a fight and Harvey Elms brushed himself down from being fended off in his attempt to prevent Kenya’s fourth try to collect the kick off and step two defenders to run clear.
Captain Scott Riddell then intercepted inside the Kenyan half to score under the posts and the belief in his side began to grow, 12-26 the score with three minutes to play.
The introduction of Jack Cuthbert saw Scotland dominate the aerial battles at the restart and they began to dominate possession as they had done in the opening exchanges.
Elms continued to threaten and was tackled without the ball chasing a clever kick through. The referee awarded a penalty try and showed the Kenyan defender a yellow card.
With the clock ticking Max McFarland was dragged down short of the line and it looked as though Scotland’s chance had passed, despite the Kenyan’s being reduced to five players.
However, Farndale’s strong finishes under pressure in the corner was followed by a pin point touchline conversion from Robbie Fergusson to tie the scores at 26-26.
There was still time for one last restart and Scotland showed great skill to claim the ball and patiently build towards the line before Farndale sent AT&T Park into raptures with the hooter already gone.
It is Scotland’s first time in a Sevens World Cup Quarter Final since 2005 and they will face World Series Champions South Africa at 11.32pm this evening.
Following the victory, Scotland 7s Head Coach John Dalziel said: “I’m hugely relieved. We were staring down the barrel for a while there, but I feel in times like that you find out what you’ve got as a group.
“We’ve got a young team who have really came together on an off the field and we’ve said all week that there is something brewing with this team. They’ve learned a lot of harsh lessons and have been on the wrong side of things all series and it was their moment today.
“I thought the impact off the bench was outstanding, we knew that Jack Cuthbert and Max McFarland would have a say in the game coming on at half time but probably not as much as that.
“In the second half, Jack and Jamie Farndale’s work at the restart and the kicking of Robbie Fergusson earned us some key possession and with key possession we were able to play the game plan we had practiced all week at training.
“We’re very honest and we know how close we came to a disappointing start and to being knocked out of the main competition. We’ll take our lessons from today, we’ve got a win under the belts and have another huge test tomorrow.”