Eight sides took one step closer to securing a place as a core team on the 2020 Women's World Rugby Sevens Series with Japan, Kenya and Brazil progressing forwards with unblemished records.
The opening day saw three rounds of pool matches played with the whole competition kicking-off an action-packed long weekend of rugby in Hong Kong.
In the confirmed quarter-finals, Kenya will play Argentina before Brazil face-off against Kazakhstan. Scotland booked a meeting with Papua New Guinea while Japan, who dropped out of the series last year, will meet hosts Hong Kong.
The teams competing in the last eight all have added incentive to achieve a core place after it was recently announced the number of women's rounds will increase from six to eight.
Dubai, Cape Town, New Zealand, Sydney, Hong Kong and Paris will host combined men's and women's sevens events from next season onwards as part of the next four-year world series hosting cycle. The USA Women's Sevens will again be hosted in Glendale, with Langford in Canada also remaining as a standalone event next season.
Day one started with Pool A matches as both Scotland and Japan commenced their campaigns with purposeful victories. The former beat Belgium 31-12 while the latter put 54 points past Mexico and kept Las Serpientes scoreless. When the two met it was a close encounter from the word go. Scotland's Hannah Smith helped them into an early advantage before Japan used their sharp offloading game to hold a 10-7 half-time lead and prevail 27-19 after 14 minutes.
Pre-tournament, Japan's captain Chiharu Nakamura had spoken about this 'important opportunity' and they'll relish a quarter-final meeting with the hosts while Scotland looked confident despite this being their first appearance in a series qualifying tournament.
Bianca Dos Santos Silva has jet shoes 🚀🚀🚀 pic.twitter.com/JQ42GJnfFS— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) 4 April 2019
The bid to top Pool B went down to the final match between Kenya and Papua New Guinea. Both sides had pushed past hosts Hong Kong and Uganda in their first matches to set up the winner-takes-all clash for top spot. They went into the pause locked at 10 points apiece before Janet Okelo struck. Okelo was their top try-scorer at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and her late double proved to be vital in securing the 20-10 result. Tournament hosts Hong Kong outplayed Uganda in their final match, much to the delight of the home fans.
Pool C provided a dramatic finish to the final day. First Poland, after two narrow losses, secured their maiden victory in the competition against Kazakhstan. Despite being 5-0 up at the break, they left it late. With just seconds remaining they were 10-5 behind before Anna Klichowska's second try of the match, and Karolina Jaszczyszyn's easy conversion, clinched it. Elsewhere in the pool Brazil secured top spot with three consecutive victories though their final meeting with Las Pumas went from comfortable to edge of the seat. Reuben Samuel's side just had enough to end up as 26-24 victors despite holding a 26-5 cushion at one point.
The second day of the competition will start at 10:00 local time (GMT+8), the semi-finals will take place in the early afternoon and women's qualifier final starts at 16:54 local time (GMT+8). All of the action can be followed online at www.world.rugby/sevens and @WorldRugby7s.
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