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- South Africa men overcome Australia to win fourth gold of 2022 Series
- Blitzboks equal second longest win streak of all time with 34 straight victories
- Argentina beat Ireland to men’s bronze
- Australia’s women win third gold of the season, beating Ireland in final
- Ireland women dominate England to make history by reaching first ever Cup final
- England women win bronze for first Series medal since 2019
- Naya Tapper becomes first USA women’s player to score 100 tries
South Africa’s men and Australia’s women came out on top once again in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series after an enthralling conclusion to the weekend in Seville.
The Blitzboks beat Australia 33-7 in the men’s final to continue their perfect start to the 2022 Series and rack up a sixth straight Cup victory.
Neil Powell’s side recorded a 34th consecutive win in the final, equaling the second-longest streak of all time, set by New Zealand’s 2001-02 team.
Argentina overcame Ireland 12-5 in the bronze match to clinch their fourth consecutive podium finish.
Australia’s women won their third gold in four 2022 Series events, but they had to be at their best to come from behind and beat an in-form Ireland side competing in their first ever Cup final.
England’s women beat Málaga champions USA to take bronze, their first Series medal since 2019.
BLITZBOKS STRIKE GOLD AGAIN
South Africa’s dominance shows no sign of waning, and they were once again untouchable as they added a Seville gold to their haul, after triumphing in Dubai twice and in Málaga last weekend.
Australia were looking for their first Cup final victory over the Blitzboks since Sydney 2018, but faded after a strong start to leave Spain with a silver medal.
“As you can see it’s a little bit emotional. The boys gave a big fight, this is a huge win for our system,” said South Africa captain Impi Visser.
“They are a tough team to play against, credit to them. I think our boys just grafted a bit more and in the end we wanted it a bit more.”
Justin Geduld was stretchered off with an injury early on after a physical start, before Australia were denied by TMO for a forward pass when they thought they had opened the scoring.
They eventually did just that when Ben Dowling burst through in midfield and stepped a defender to go under the posts.
But South Africa leveled in style with the final play of the first half, when Selvyn Davids sent through a grubber for Christie Grobbelaar to chase, and the Blitzbok dribbled it into the goal area at full pace before dotting down.
The Series leaders showed their class in the second half as they pulled away, with HSBC Player of the final Grobbelaar adding his second try of the night before Ryan Oosthuizen crossed, despite the Blitzboks being a man down with Darren Adonis in the sin bin.
Australia failed to take advantage as they earned back-to-back yellow cards of their own, Josh Turner and Maurice Longbottom spending two minutes in the sin bin.
Adonis atoned for his earlier transgression by scoring a try on his return to the pitch, before Visser powered over the try line to finish with a flourish.
AUSTRALIA LEAVE IT LATE
In the women’s decider, Australia’s Faith Nathan scored a match-winning try after the buzzer to clinch a comeback victory over an Ireland side competing in their first ever Cup final.
Ireland’s rise to the showcase match, including a semi-final thrashing of England, was the story of the weekend in the women’s event, and they put in another superb performance to push the Series leaders all the way.
“It was a great final. We always said Ireland were a fighting team and they certainly did fight to the end, but it was awesome to see our girls out there fighting just as hard to the end with that final try,” HSBC Player of the final Dominique Du Toit said.
Ireland flew out of the blocks as Beibhinn Parsons pounced on a loose ball to go the distance after just two minutes, and they soon added a second try to set up a potential shock when Stacey Flood bounced off tackles to put the Irish 12-0 up.
Nathan pulled a try back for Australia before the break, but they left it late to complete the comeback in an intense second half.
Substitute Du Toit scored an outstanding individual try to draw the top seeds level with two minutes to go, storming through the Irish defence and evading tackle attempts.
Du Toit made another line break and surged towards the line after the buzzer, but was denied by a try-saving tackle from Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe. Australia recycled the ball quickly to send Nathan over the line for a dramatic finale that broke Irish hearts.
PUMAS WIN ANOTHER MEDAL
Argentina continued their superb record in the 2022 season by winning a medal at a fourth consecutive tournament, beating Ireland 12-5 in the bronze match.
The Pumas, who suffered a heartbreaking last-gasp defeat to South Africa in the Málaga final a week earlier, denied an Irish side chasing their first medal since 2018 in a fiercely contested clash.
Terry Kennedy appeared to have dotted down in the corner to draw first blood, but a TMO review showed that he hadn’t managed to ground the ball properly.
The Irish didn’t have to wait long to open the scoring though, as Aaron O’Sullivan pounced on a slack pass to cross for an easy score.
Argentina grew into the game and got back into it when Gaston Revol darted down the short side off the back of a scrum and evaded tackles to stretch over the line and draw the scores level before the break.
A cagey second half could have gone either way, but Argentina profited from an Irish mistake when a loose lineout throw fell into Pumas hands, ultimately resulting in Rodrigo Isgro reaching out at full stretch to provide the decisive score.
RED ROSES END LONG WAIT FOR MEDAL
In the women bronze final, England had a daunting task in front of them in their bid to win a first medal in almost three years as they faced an in-form USA side that won gold in Málaga just a week earlier.
But they put in an assured performance to triumph 19-12 and put the disappointment of a heavy semi-final loss to Ireland behind them.
It marked England’s first medal win on the Series since clinching silver in Japan in April 2019, but things started ominously when American flyer Kris Thomas found a gap in the midfield to go under the posts after two minutes.
Ellie Boatman burned down the right wing to get England back in it, but Thomas gathered the restart and ran straight through to the sticks to offer an immediate response.
Emma Uren crossed for England with the final play of the half, and the Red Roses saw it out in the second half as Heather Cowell rode some tackles to dive in at the corner and seal a memorable victory.
AUSTRALIA OVERCOME ARGENTINA ONCE MORE
Málaga silver medallists Argentina were gunning for a second Cup final in a row, but came undone against an Australian side that clocked up their fourth Cup semi-final victory in a row in this fixture with a 28-12 win.
Luciano Gonzalez exhibited his blistering pace inside the opening minute to put the Pumas in front, but Aussie flyer Corey Toole soon went under the posts and a Henry Hutchison score completed the Australian comeback.
Toole added his second of the game with the final play of the first half, gathering a sensational flat pass from Maurice Longbottom to go under the posts, and Longbottom grabbed a try of his own after the break before a late consolation from Franco Sabato.
Olympian.— USA Rugby (@USARugby) January 30, 2022
Keep it coming, Stephen. We want more. pic.twitter.com/JmvaGEGg6M
Ireland’s men were looking to emulate the feat of their female counterparts by reaching their first ever Cup final, but fell short in only their third ever semi-final in a 26-0 defeat to South Africa.
The Irish started well as an ill-disciplined Blitzboks side was starved of possession, but Grobbelaar turned defence into attack to go the distance from inside his own half and Shaun Williams added a second try before half time.
Geduld hit a perfect line to dot down in the corner after the break as the favourites hit their stride, and Selvyn Davids added a fourth try late on after Ireland’s key man Terry Kennedy saw yellow.
USA sealed fifth place as a Kevon Williams try after the buzzer clinched a 22-17 win over England, after the two playoff contestants beat France and Scotland respectively in the fifth-place semi-finals.
Kenya and Spain knocked out Germany and Japan to reach the ninth -place playoff, which the Kenyans won 24-19, while Wales defeated Canada 19-14 to take 13th place.
IRELAND MAKE MORE HISTORY
Ireland’s run to their second ever Cup semi-final was the story of day two in the women’s event, and the dream run didn’t end there as they ran riot in an outstanding 29-0 semi-final win over England.
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe continued her superb recent form with two tries, one either side of a Lucy Mulhall score, as Ireland went in 15-0 up at the break.
Their attacking intent continued as Beibhinn Parsons crossed the try line twice in the second half, with England unable to lay a glove on their dominant and determined opponents.
“It’s amazing, it’s what dreams are made of. We’ve worked really hard as a team, there’s a lot of love, a lot of heart. This is what we wanted to achieve. Ultimately, we want more girls playing sevens in Ireland, so this helps,” said Mulhall.
Australia reached their third Cup final of the season by edging Málaga champions USA 21-19 in their semi-final clash.
Tia Hinds’ early try was cancelled out by Kris Thomas and Jaz Gray scores, but Cheta Emba’s yellow card after the break let the Australians back into the game as Faith Nathan immediately sprinted under the posts.
USA’s discipline let them down again when Kayla Canett was sin-binned shortly after Emba rejoined the game, and Australia again profited as Maddison Levi went over the try line.
The Women’s Eagles narrowed the gap when their all-time top try scorer Tapper stormed down the right wing to run in her 100th Series try, becoming the first American women to reach a century - a milestone that her mate Stephen Tomasin also reached on that day. However, the missed conversion proved crucial as Australia held on with a two-point lead.
France finished fifth thanks to a 26-10 playoff win over Russia, but hosts Spain were pipped to seventh by Canada after losing their playoff 21-5.
Brazil took ninth, overcoming Poland 17-5, while Belgium also clinched some valuable Series points by beating debutants Portugal 40-7 in the 11th place decider.
The Sevens Series now takes a break until April, when the men will head to Singapore and Vancouver in consecutive weekends over 9/10 and 17/18, while the women head to Langford next on 30 April/1 May.