South Africa claimed the third round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a 26-5 win over in Fiji in a windy and half-empty Cake Tin Wellington on Sunday, cementing their spot at the top of the series standings.
Scotland Sevens finished in third place after beating Canada 28-22 in an epic bronze final and continues their fine run of form this season.
Having finished fifth in Dubai and fourth in the Cape Town event, third represents a steady progression for Calum MacRae’s men who seem to have put the wild variations in form of previous years to bed. Hopefully we will see them be there or there about in the continuing series events as they take their momentum into the Sydney event next weekend.
It doesn’t get easy at the top though, for that one they have been drawn top of Pool C along with “lesser teams” like New Zealand, Australia and Papa New Guinea.
Scotland started a bit poorly with a loss to fellow bronze finalists Canada who scored two early tries that the Scots never really recovered from despite some close final minutes.
Scotland’s next opponents were Russia and again Calum MacRae’s side seemed to be struggling to find their best form. It took scores from Gavin Lowe and James Fleming to win 12-5.
Their next win against Celtic cousins Wales was far more comfortable, Scotland beating Wales 31-7 to secure their passage through to the Cup Quarter-Finals with tries coming from Lowe 2, Robertson, Fleming and Glenn Bryce.
Finishing second in their pool set up a tie against England to start day two, who Scotland had lost to in both Dubai and South Africa.
Missing on day one, Scott Wight replaced the injured Nick McLennan in the Scotland squad for day two and he kicked two conversions as tries from Jamie Farndale and Lowe gave the Scots a 14-7 lead at half time. The English came back strongly in the second half and a dramatic last ditch tackle from James Fleming prevented a near certain try as England raced away.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 29 January 2017
England finally scored just as it looked as the second half was going to end scoreless but it was too late to alter the result and Scotland progressed to the Semi-Finals winning 14-12.
Scotland started quickly against Olympic Champions Fiji with two first half tries through Horne and Robertson meaning they lead 12-7 at the break. As in the previous match Scotland defended their line gallantly for the second period as they were besieged. A try for the Pacific Islanders deep into injury time levelled the scores. With scoring threats who can create tries from almost nothing right throughout the team, Fiji always pose an extreme danger in sudden death and so it proved as they crossed with 21 minutes on the clock.
The result meant Scotland would face Canada in the bronze medal game looking to reverse the result from Day One to ensure a podium finish.
Again it was the Canadians who took an early lead but first half tries from Fleming and Horne meant Scotland had a 14-12 lead at half time.
Fleming got his second early in the second before Canada fought back with two tries to lead 21-22 going into the closing stages.
However, as the final whistle approached again it was Fleming who was Scotland’s hero, capping a fine tournament and completing his hat trick to hand his side the victory and a third placed finish.