Both the men’s and women’s quarter-final line-ups are beginning to take shape at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2022 following a pulsating day of action in Chile.
Kazakhstan, Japan, Poland and Kenya secured their passage to the last-eight of the women’s tournament by winning both of their matches at Estadio Santa Laura on day one.
In the men’s tournament, meanwhile, Germany, Hong Kong, Tonga and hosts Chile will start day two guaranteed of their place in the quarter-finals.
The final pool matches will be played on Saturday morning in Chile, before the knockout stage gets underway at 15:24 local time (GMT -4).
The winner of each tournament, to be decided on Sunday, will earn their status as a core team on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023.
The action got underway earlier on Friday in Santiago, when tries from Galina Krassavina (two), Nigora Nurmatova and Balzhan Koishybayeva ensured Kazakhstan kicked off the women’s tournament with a 22-5 defeat of Colombia.
Japan then beat Mexico 44-5 as Wakaba Hara scored four of her side’s eight tries to help the Sakura Sevens begin their Pool F campaign in style.
Kazakhstan and Japan later made sure of their place in the quarter-finals as they won their second matches of the day – 24-5 against Mexico and 21-12 against Colombia respectively. They will face each other on day two to decide who tops Pool F.
In the third match of the day Manon Nairac scored a hat-trick to help Belgium beat Papua New Guinea 41-0 at Estadio Santa Laura.
Malgorzata Koldej was the star of the show for Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens winners Poland, scoring four second-half tries as they beat Argentina 36-5.
Argentina rebounded well, though, and three Antonella Reding tries gave them a 15-10 win against Belgium later on Friday, before Poland rubber-stamped their place at the top of Pool E, and secured their passage to the last eight, with a 71-0 defeat of Papua New Guinea.
Pool D started with something of an upset on Friday as Grace Okulu’s 10th-minute conversion proved decisive in Kenya’s 17-15 defeat of former core Series team China.
Hosts Chile, meanwhile, conceded two tries in the opening three minutes of their encounter with South Africa, going on to lose the match 22-10 despite a late comeback.
It didn’t get any better for the home side in their second match as China ran out 36-0 winners to get their campaign back on track. Kenya then booked their place in the quarter-finals with an impressive 31-5 defeat of South Africa, Okulu scoring 16 points.
Day two will get underway at 09:28 local time (GMT -4) when Colombia take on Mexico, before Pool F toppers Japan and Kazakhstan meet.
The first match of the men’s tournament was a cracker as Philip Wokorach scored 21 of his side’s points – including three tries – as Uganda beat Uruguay 26-12 in Pool C.
A brace of tries from Tim Lichtenberg then helped Germany kick off their Challenger Series campaign with a 21-10 defeat of Lithuania.
Uruguay ran in eight tries to get their tournament back on track with a 52-5 win against Lithuania. A Jack Hunt hat-trick then ensured Germany came from behind to win a tight match against Uganda, 17-14 and book their place in the last eight.
Tonga will join the Europeans in the quarter-finals after they kicked off their Pool B campaign with wins against Jamaica and Zimbabwe.
Hong Kong are also certain of qualification from Pool B. Max Denmark scored two of their seven tries in a 47-0 defeat of Jamaica in the Asian side’s second match of the opening day.
Tonga and Hong Kong will meet on Saturday to decide who tops Pool B, while a potential last-eight spot will be on the line when Jamaica meet Zimbabwe.
Pool A was the final pool to get underway on Friday, but it didn’t disappoint when it did, Derrick Voku’s last-minute try securing a 15-12 defeat of Korea for Papua New Guinea in Santiago.
Chile then emerged from a close contest against Georgia, tries from Benjamin Videla, Luca Strabucchi and Julio Blanc ensuring a 19-14 win.
Georgia ended day one on a high, however, as Lasha Lomidze’s late second try put the seal on a 41-5 defeat of Korea.
The hosts then brought an end to the first day with a hard-fought victory against Papua New Guinea, recovering from conceding an early try to secure a 24-7 win and their passage to the quarter-finals.
Day two of the men’s tournament will kick off at 11:04 local time (GMT -4) as Uganda face Lithuania with a place in the last eight at stake before Germany take on Uruguay.