New Zealand fell to a shock 26-21 loss to France in their final group game, but both sides advanced to the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens semi-final stage to face Australia and USA respectively.

The defending Hong Kong champions recovered to beat Canada 26-5 while France made light work of Ireland with a 31-7 victory.

The USA were similarly commanding in their 33-7 win over Fiji, but Australia were made to work hard for a 12-0 victory over a determined Japan to set up a mouth-watering Trans-Tasman contest with the Black Ferns Sevens.

Saturday's action means USA, Canada, Ireland and Fiji join Australia, New Zealand and France in confirming their place at the Grand Final in Madrid.

The eighth and final spot will be decided in Singapore, but current eighth-seed Great Britain face ninth-seed Brazil on Sunday in Hong Kong in the 9th place final in a crucial contest for that place in Madrid.

In the pools: France shock New Zealand 

France edged a thriller with New Zealand in their Pool A decider by 26-21, after fighting back from a two-point deficit at the break. Two scores each were exchanged in the opening minutes, but France's Séraphine Okemba scored a late winner to hand New Zealand their first pool stage loss of the HSBC SVNS 2024 series. Meanwhile, Great Britain got their first win of the weekend by 17-12 over Brazil.

Australia made light work of South Africa, winning 28-0 to go three from three in Pool B. Fijiana took the victory over Ireland by 21-5 after a brace from Adi Vani Buleki, but both sides still qualified for the quarter-finals.

Canada secured their position at the top of Pool C with a tight 12-5 victory over neighbours USA, extending a 7-0 half time lead with a late score from Fancy Bermudez. Meanwhile, Japan beat Spain 19-12 with the latest of winners from Wakaba Hara to advance to the last eight, guaranteeing their best finish this season and maintaining their hopes of a spot in Madrid. 

Eagles ease to final four

The USA advanced to the semi-final stage with a convincing 33-7 win over Fiji. Kristi Kirshe opened the scoring for the US but Ana Maria Naimasi soon brought the Fijiana level. The try-scorer would then see yellow and that would bring an end to Fiji’s offering in this game, who’ve now lost their last six quarter-finals, as the US found the whitewash four more times for a comprehensive victory.

France through to semis as Ciofani scores brace  

France continued their pool stage momentum as they beat Ireland 31-7 to advance to their first Hong Kong semi-final. Anne-Cécile Ciofani opened proceedings for France but Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe soon got Ireland over the whitewash to draw the scores level.

France, however, took a 19-7 lead into the break as they found their way around the edges of the Irish defence, first through Séraphine Okemba on the right and then Ciofani once again in the left corner. Montserrat Amedee extended France’s lead soon after half time, but it was Joanna Grisez’s fifth of the weekend that took them beyond catching as she showed her pace down the left wing.

New Zealand fight on

New Zealand recovered from their pool stage slip to beat Canada 26-5 and maintain their hopes of defending their Hong Kong title.

Canada came in with slim hopes, having not beaten New Zealand at this stage in nine years and were put to the sword in the first half, a double from Shiray Kaka and another from Jorja Miller seeing them lead 21-0 at the break.

Mahina Paul then took the lead to 26 before Shalaya Valenzuela finally found the whitewash for Canada, but there was no time left to mount a comeback.

Australia battle to semi-final

Australia scraped past a dogged Japan side to advance to final four with a 12-0 win. Japan had never beaten Australia and never won a quarter-final, but the first half was a closely fought contest as the underdogs defended doggedly against the HSBC SVNS 2024 series leaders until Tia Hinds finally broke the deadlock.

It was the same story in the second half, Japan denying Australia chances and seeing Sariah Paki sent to the bin for a deliberate knock on. However, an Australian side familiar with six-player rugby prevailed against the run of play, Teagan Levi powering through to give her side the breathing room to take them to victory.