Defending champions New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and England all secured semi-final places during a thrilling second day of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 action at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday.
England provided the most dramatic moment of the Championship quarter-finals, needing a piece of utter brilliance from captain Tom Mitchell to beat hosts USA in extra-time.
The scores were locked at 19-19 until Mitchell put up a perfectly-weighted cross-field kick for Phil Burgess to run onto and score the sudden-death winner.
Olympic champions Fiji had earlier put on a masterclass against Argentina with some scintillating tries, while HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2018 champions South Africa powered past Scotland in their quarter-final.
In contrast, New Zealand had to dig deep to remain in the hunt for a third RWC Sevens crown, overturning three yellow cards in the first half and a half-time deficit to overcome France.
The Championship semi-finals will get underway at 23:40 Sunday evening (UAE time) with South Africa facing England before Fiji meet old rivals New Zealand.
BOWL AND CHALLENGE QUARTER-FINALS
The men’s competition on day two began with the Bowl quarter-finals involving the teams that lost in the preliminary round of matches on Friday.
Tonga and Chile set the tone with a 62-point thriller that Los Condores Sevens came out on top of 33-29.
Elsewhere, there were narrower victories for Uganda over Zimbabwe and Uruguay against Papua New Guinea, while Hong Kong were too strong for Jamaica.
In the Challenge competition quarter-finals, Ireland’s Jordan Conroy dazzled with a hat-trick against Kenya and Australia put their round of 16 loss to France firmly behind them, Henry Hutchison’s brace combining with five other try-scorers for a 41-0 win over Russia to set up a meeting with Canada.
Ireland will now encounter familiar rivals Wales early on Sunday night – 22:34 UAE time.
The Championship quarter-finals concluded the men’s action on Saturday in pulsating fashion as every team knew what was at stake.
South Africa turned up the heat from the word go against Scotland with former World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year Werner Kok imposing himself on the encounter early.
The Blitzboks were clinical in every facet and allowed Scotland hardly any ball in hand, racing into a 36-0 lead with braces by Kok and Justin Geduld before a late consolation try for Scotland with the final play.
Fiji then sent a message of intent with their 43-7 quarter-final win over Argentina and highlighted the quality of their skills and unique offloading abilities.
Semi Radradra was instrumental in two of their first-half tries and his first assist put Kalione Nasoko over after just two minutes.
Los Pumas Sevens hit back once after the break, through Franco Sabato, but it was one way traffic as the side going in search of a third Rugby World Cup Sevens title opened their boxes of tricks.
In the third quarter-final, the All Blacks Sevens found themselves 7-0 down after playing the majority of the first half with just six players on the field due to three separate yellow cards.
A more disciplined second half followed and tries for Kurt Baker and Joe Ravouvou were enough to wrestle the match back from France.
The greatest drama on day two was reserved for the hosts and their last-eight opponents England.
The USA started strongly after Martin Iosefo’s offload neatly found Madison Hughes.
The captain’s conversion created an early 7-0 lead before a Dan Norton double gave England a 12-7 advantage at the break.
Ollie Lindsay-Hague scored straight from the second-half restart but Folau Niua and Perry Baker reeled the 1993 champions back in once again.
With nothing separating the two after normal time, the first sudden death extra-time of RWC Sevens 2013 followed with Mitchell providing the coup de grâce for Burgess to score the winner and spark the English celebrations.
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