Scotland 7s in Hong Kong
An unfamiliar Scotland 7s squad began to merge nicely in Hong Kong, reaching the Cup competition on day three emerging from a difficult pool.
John Dalziel had named much of his Team Scotland Commonwealth Games squad in order to gain valuable game time ahead of next weekend’s visit to the Gold Coast.
The squad, with no tournament experience as a unit, progressed from a pool containing England, South Africa and South Korea. Losing to eventual finalists Kenya in the Quarter Finals.
Like Scotland, England had named a fresh-faced squad for the Hong Kong tournament with the Commonwealth Games in mind and the two sides battled out a classic on Friday night at Hong Kong Stadium.
Glasgow Warriors’ George Horne spent much of last season playing on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and it didn’t take him long to return to form.
Two tries from the scrum half in the first seven minutes gave his side a 12-5 lead at the break.
England hit back after the break, and just as Jamie Farndale looked to have won it for the Scots their opponents scored a length of the field try with just moments to go.
Deep into injury time, having collected the restart and patiently gone through the phases, Scotland scored a dramatic winner in the corner through Lee Jones, another Glasgow Warrior with previous 7s experience.
Up next were South Africa, also playing with a rotated squad. Another Horne score and a try for Edinburgh Rugby’s Darcy Graham made it 10-14 to the Afrians at the break.
However, Scotland were starved of the ball in the second half and the current World Series champions ran in three unanswered tries.
Glenn Bryce crossed with the last play of the game, but the match finished 17-31.
Up next were the unknown quantity of South Korea. Scotland confidently secured their place in the Cup quarter finals scoring nine tries.
Farndale, Ruaridh Jackson and Max McFarland bagged a brace on top of scores from Glasgow Warriors Horne, Jones and Matt Fagerson.
Drawn against Kenya in the Cup quarter final, two tries from Jamie Farndale weren’t enough to progress further with the Africans crossing the whitewash three times to take the victory 12-19.
Scotland’s next game was against the USA and with three minutes to go they were 19-0 down having struggled to get on the right side of the referee.
However, three late tries from Graham, McFarland and an inspired solo score from Horne gave the fans at Hong Kong Stadium a grand stand finish but missed conversions proved costly and it was the Americans who progressed 15-19.
Scotland 7s Head Coach John Dalziel said:
“I’m pleased with how we have jelled and I thought we had a real chance against Kenya to reach Scotland’s first ever Hong Kong semi-final.
“We have learnt a lot from the five games and the boys understand each other and the systems far better.
“The weekend has been valuable in terms of series points getting us up to 9/10th in the series and also worked as building blocks for the Gold Coast next week so I’m happy both outcomes were achieved.”