Sunday, December 4, 2011

Argentina finish Fourth in Dubai

The new generation of players for Argentina appears to be on the right track after the South Americans successfully made the Semi Finals of what has arguably come to be the second biggest Rugby Sevens event of the year, the Duabi Sevens. Hong Kong continues to be the world´s premier Rugby Sevens event but the UAE has come so far in such a short time. It has been a positive place for Los Pumas with Argentina making the Final of the Rugby Sevens World Cup in Dubai in 2009. On that occassion, Wales were crowned champions after completing a come from behind victory. The two sides would meet again in this weekends event but at the Quarter Finals stage.

Argentina reached the Quarter Finals stage in an unlikely way. Los Pumas finished second in its pool behind Fiji despite only winning one of its three pool matches. Argentina lost its first match to Fiji and went into its match with Samoa thinking it was a must win scenario. Los Pumas were able to go fourteen points clear as Argentina were leading Samoa 21-7 before the Pacific Islanders staged a come back to lead 28-21 with time all but over on the clock. Agustin Migliore then went over to cut the lead to two points and Gonzalo Gutierrez Taboada converted the try to make it 28-28 and mean that Argentain needed to score as many points as possible ve the UAE and needed Fiji to defeat Samoa. A hat-trick from Manuel Montero was the highlight in Argentina´s impressive 73-7 victory over the UAE and proved decisive as Argentina finished second in the pool, sending Samoa along a different path.

On day two Argentina started with a win in the Quarter Final clash with Wales but it was not pretty. Wales were leading the match 5-0 with time all but over before Argentine replacement Antonio Ahualli de Chazal went over for a try to level the scores. Argentina then had the opportunity to win the match with Joaquín Díaz Bonilla of Buenos Aires club, Hindú successfully seeing Argentina into the Semi Final as the South Americans won the match 7-5. The result saw the South Americans take on France, a team that has been widely criticised for not taking Rugby Sevens seriously enough. Les Bleus may have now silenced the critics, however, as the Europeans defeated heavyweights South Africa  in its Quarter Final match and had defeated New Zealand on day one. France were too strong for Argentina as they won the Semi Final 24-5. The scoreline does not tell the story of the match, however, as Argentina played well but were unable to put points on the board as France defended superbly. The result saw France face England in the Cup Final while Argentina were to face Fiji in the Bronze Final. England completed back-to-back Dubai Sevens titles after winning 29-12 while Fiji came from behind to defeat Argentina 26-21 in the battle for third place after Gutiérrez Taboada and Montero put Argentina in a good early position with tries. Fiji´s comeback saw the game go into extra time and the HSBC Sevens World Series leaders completed the win with Livai Ikanikoda going over for his second try of the match in sudden death.
The USA reached the Bowl Final but were overpowered by Scotland who completed a 26-0 victory to win right points in the Sevens Series. The North Americans had reached the final after defeating rivals, Canada 33-17 and Zimbabwe 41-7. Both North American countries will join Argentina in the third leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series which is to be played in Port Elizabeth, South Africa next weekend. The draw for the tournament was made in Dubai with Argentina and the USA set to face each other as they complete in the Pool of death which is to include themselves as well as England and Samoa. Canada are to face the host nation as well as Australia and Kenya.

HSBC Sevens World Series Standings
1 Fiji 39
2 England 32
3 France 29
4 New Zealand 29
5 South Africa 29
6 Australia 28
7 Argentina 23
8 Wales 23
9 Samoa 15
10 Scotland 15
11 USA12
12 Canada 5
13 Portugal 5
14 Tonga 5
15 Kenya 3
16 Papua New Guinea 3
17 Japan 2
18 Niue 1
19 UAE 1
20 Zimbabwe 0

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