Hong Kong pull off shock 7’s win over Wales

Hong Kong pulled off one of the biggest shocks in the history of World Sevens on Saturday with a last-gasp victory against world champions Wales. Meanwhile it was business as usual for emerging favourites New Zealand and Fiji as a lacklustre Samoa, widely tipped to win at the start of the tournament, showed they have much room for improvement.

The hosts of the showpiece Hong Kong Sevens sent a rapidly-filling 40,000 capacity stadium wild as Anthony Haynes crossed the line for a converted try to give the underdogs a 21-19 win described by their Welsh coach Dai Rees as a career high.

“That was absolutely outstanding,” Rees told AFP after the final whistle.

“We did what we came out here to do, we put Wales under pressure and we were fantastic.

“That has probably got to be one of the highlights of my career, beating Wales with a Hong Kong team in Hong Kong Stadium.”

Hong Kong, who suffered humiliation on the opening day of the tournament, losing 45-0 to England, traded tries with Wales in a tight game and were 19-14 down with less than two minutes to go when Haynes popped up to cross the line.

Organisers hope the world-renowned Hong Kong Sevens, where thousands of fans roar on 24 teams over three days of rugby, will reinforce interest in the sport ahead of its Olympic debut in Brazil in 2016.

New Zealand enjoyed an emphatic 36-0 win over France with two tries each from DJ Forbes and Zar Lawrence while Portugal were there to make up the numbers as Fiji demolished them 45-7.

Kiwis coach Gordon Tietjens said: “I thought we played pretty well. We had all the possession and kept the ball, which is the key in sevens rugby.

“I’m pretty happy overall. France are an unpredictable team — we’ve had some close contests with them in the past.” Tietjens wouldn’t be drawn on who New Zealand’s biggest rivals were, telling AFP: “Every team you play in sevens is an obstacle.

Any team who get to the quarterfinals can win the tournament.”

England impressed with a 45-0 win over Japan, Ben Gollings cementing his stature as the top points scorer in the history of the series with a sudden turn of pace in the midfield to cross over for the game’s opening try.

Earlier the United States showed the kind of form that saw them reach the final of the Adelaide leg of the series with a blistering 62-0 demolition of Thailand featuring five tries from 26-year-old winger Kevin Swiryn.

Argentine Joaquin Tuculet looked equally impressive as the Pumas trounced Italy 42-0 but it was an altogether closer affair as the ever-improving China lost to Canada by just a single try, going down 12-7.

South Africa underlined their threat with a 40-7 victory over Korea.

Samoa, widely tipped to take the cup, won but failed to impress in their first outing of the day, beating an out-of-sorts Russia 24-12.

The showpiece Hong Kong event is the sixth stop on the eight-leg Sevens World Series with further tournaments to come in England and Scotland.

The Samoans, series leaders New Zealand and Fiji have shared the spoils in the five events played on the tour before Hong Kong, with the Kiwis edging ahead on 96 points, leading the Samoans by two.

Despite getting off to a perfect start with two tournament wins, New Zealand have suffered a dip in form as Samoa have come through as the team to watch, with back-to-back victories in Las Vegas and Adelaide.

In October, the International Olympics Committee voted to include rugby sevens in the 2016 Rio Games, which Trevor Rigby, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman, described on Friday as “one of the most important moments in the history of our sport”.

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