Men’s HSBC SVNS 2024 pace-setters Argentina remain in the hunt for the inaugural title in Perth, while Australia maintained home hopes of a Cup double at HBF Park.
Los Pumas Sevens were made to work incredibly hard to overcome Spain 28-17 in their Cup quarter-final but a Marcos Moneta hat-trick proved decisive.
They will play Ireland in the Cup semi-finals on a sold-out day three (kick-off 13:10 local time, GMT+8), after Zac Ward crashed over late on to edge an epic tussle 21-14 against France on Saturday.
Sunday’s second semi-final will be between Fiji, who overcame New Zealand in their final Pool C match before beating South Africa 14-12 in another nail-biting quarter-final, and Australia.
The hosts earned revenge for their pool-stage defeat against USA, running in five tries to beat Mike Friday’s side 31-7 and emulate their female counterparts by reaching the semi-finals.
Ireland clinch thriller
Matches between France and Ireland have been tight affairs in recent history, and this was no different as Ward won it in the final play to send the vociferous Irish support into rapture.
Ireland had been forced to dig deep for the victory after France took a first-minute lead through Stephen Parez Edo Martin, who took advantage of some brilliant breakdown work from Theo Forner.
Hugo Lennox crashed over to level the scores midway through the first half but a mix-up in the Irish defence was exploited by Joseph Jefferson Lee on the stroke of half-time.
That gave France a 14-7 lead, but they were pegged back again when Ireland were awarded a penalty try after Jefferson Lee tackled Jordon Conroy off the ball as he raced onto his own kick ahead.
Jefferson Lee was also sent to the sin bin and although France weathered that storm, they conceded in agonising fashion as Ward crashed over in the 17th minute of an enthralling contest.
Argentina pushed hard by Spain
Saturday’s second Cup quarter-final pitted the team sitting top of the overall standings ahead of Perth against the side that began the tournament bottom – but you wouldn’t have known it.
Spain dominated possession in the first half and took a deserved lead with less than two minutes on the clock when Eduardo Lopez went over.
Argentina continued to struggle to gain much possession or territory following the restart, but they didn’t need it as Marcos Moneta struck two counter-attacking blows before the interval.
A brilliantly worked team try reignited Spanish belief early in the second half as Josep Serres dove over but a second missed conversion meant they still trailed, 14-10.
Spain tired as the half wore on and Moneta completed his hat-trick following a powerful break from German Schulz. Santiago Mare then put the seal on victory with a fourth Argentine try, from close range, before Pol Pla gave Spain a deserved third.
Fiji recover to beat South Africa
Despite topping Pool C, Fiji had not led any of their three matches in Perth ahead of their Cup quarter-final at half-time and they had to come from behind again against South Africa.
The Blitzboks went into half-time 5-0 ahead after Ryan Oosthuizen scored in the left corner following a loose pass from Fiji inside their own 22.
Terio Tamani wiped out that deficit within a minute of the restart, but South Africa retook the lead two minutes later as Tristan Leyds sliced through an opening in the Fijian defence.
Moments later James Murphy was sent to the sin bin, however, and that proved decisive as a couple of brilliant offloads off the floor put Rere Ropate over to score what proved the match-winning try.
It means South Africa’s six-year wait for a quarter-final win against Fiji goes on.
Hosts storm into semi-finals
In the final Cup quarter-final of day two Australia avenged their pool-stage defeat to USA to maintain home hopes in the men’s tournament.
Following a cagey opening four minutes Nick Malouf sliced through a gap in the USA defence to open the scoring for the home side. Less than two minutes later the Australia captain secured a crucial turnover that led to Nathan Lawson crossing the whitewash.
USA had recovered from 14-0 down to win 19-14 on Friday but Lawson soon made their assignment even tougher as he notched his second try on the stroke of half-time. Perry Baker was shown a yellow card for an infringement in the lead up to Lawson’s score and the hosts made the player advantage count early in the second half as Henry Palmer produced a stunning finish in the left corner.
USA were awarded a penalty try midway through the second half, with Lawson sent to the sin-bin, but a comeback proved beyond them and it was Australia who completed the scoring through Ben Dowling.
Day three will get underway at 11:08 local time when Great Britain, who were beaten in golden-point extra-time by Samoa in their ninth-place semi-final, take on Canada, who suffered a 26-21 defeat to New Zealand.
Samoa will then play the All Blacks Sevens in the ninth-place play-off before the Cup semi-finals kick off at 13:10 local time.