There was sensational rugby sevens, a vibrant welcome ceremony, high drama and heartbreak on day two at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022, which ended with four men’s and women’s teams remaining in with a chance of being crowned world champions on Sunday in Cape Town.
Day three will see the women’s semi-final line-up sees Australia take on the USA and New Zealand face France after the Fijiana suffered a narrow loss to France.
In the men’s semi-finals Fiji, who overcame fellow Pacific Islanders Samoa, will meet Australia and New Zealand play against Ireland, conquerors of hosts South Africa on day two.
Following a commanding win against against Jamaica, Tonga had a heartbreaking loss against Germany and will not play off for 19th/20th.
FAVOURITES AUSTRALIA IN HOT FORM
Australia underlined their top seed status with an impressive 35-5 win over England in the opening women's quarter-final of the Saturday evening session.
Speedster Nathan, who became the first player to score five tries in a single match against Madagascar on Friday, crossed the whitewash twice as the Aussie Sevens raced into a 21-0 half-time lead.
Emma Uren crashed over the line to get England back in it after the break, but Nathan soon pinned her ears back to complete her hat-trick and take her personal try tally to a tournament-best eight.
New Zealand’s quest to defend their RWC Sevens title is still on track after a 26-0 win over Ireland set up a semi-final clash with France.
Niall Williams scored the only try of an error-strewn first half, but the Black Ferns’ quality showed after the break when Woodman ran from under her own posts to score her 20th RWC Sevens try, an all-time record.
They completed the job with tries from Alena Saili and Shiray Kaka, overcoming their initial inaccuracies to take a comfortable win.
Try-scorer Niall Williams spoke after New Zealand's 28-0 defeat of Ireland saying "That's the good thing about half-time is you get to regroup and quickly chat about what you can do better. To be blunt, we were kind of passing the buck and not taking it forward ourselves. We wanted look after each other a bit better on the field and knew we would build a good platform from there.
"When we get a little bit under pressure it's not about who you can pass the ball to to go forward, it's about taking that responsibility on yourself and carrying it yourself and setting a good platform so your mate next door to you isn't under as much pressure as you."
"The bonus is winning but to me I just take in all these moments because these are the big moments that count. It's not the medals, it's not all the accolades, it's the moments you share in the changing rooms, on the bus rides, at the hotels with your friends. I'm just proud to be here." Williams added.
A last-gasp Joanna Grisez try earned France a thrilling 19-14 win over Fiji in a dramatic and eventful quarter-final.
Ana Maria Namiasi danced through the defence as Fiji drew first blood against a sloppy French side, but Camille Grassineau pulled one back with the final play and Les Bleues came out after the break a team transformed.
Jade Ulutule’s try was cancelled out by Naimasi’s second and Fijiana had the advantage when they were awarded a penalty with the clock in the red, but France turned the ball over and Grisez went storming down the left wing to win it.
North American neighbours USA and Canada faced off for the first time ever at a RWC Sevens, and it was the United States who edged to a scrappy 10-7 win in a brutal encounter.
Jaz Gray, who scored a hat-trick in the Round of 16 against Poland, continued her fine form by crossing the try line to put the Americans in front.
A converted Keyara Wardley try edged Canada into a two-point lead after the break but, as the penalty count stacked up, Ilona Maher powered over the try line between two defenders to score the winning try.
NEW ZEALAND SURVIVE ARGENITIAN SCARE
New Zealand faced a threat to their long RWC Sevens winning run against Argentina, but they managed to come out 12-5 winners from a tense battle and stretch that streak to 12 games.
German Schulz profited from a super Matias Osadczuk offload to go over in the corner for the Pumas, but Scott Curry struck back for the All Blacks before half-time.
It was far from a perfect performance from the Kiwis, but the match was lit up by a moment of brilliance when Moses Leo burst through a tackle to sprint half the pitch and dive over the try line.
There was a moment of concern when the referee, Australian Jordan Way, had to be replaced after taking a knock in an accidental collision, and Argentina were banging on the door late on but couldn’t take advantage as they knocked on with the final play.
In Australia’s clash with France, neither side budged in a physical first half that saw Jean Pascal Barraque earn a yellow card.
Les Bleus survived the power play period without conceding, but Henry Paterson eventually went over the try line to break the deadlock with the final play.
France immediately struck back after the restart with a stunning team move of interweaving passing and movement finished off by Paulin Riva, but Maurice Longbottom soon punctured the Bleus defence to put the Aussies firmly in control.
Olympic gold medallists Fiji knocked out Samoa to reach the final four, recovering from conceding an early Steve Onosai try to win 21-10.
Jerry Tuwai, Kaminieli Rasaku and Sevuloni Mocenacagi crossed the whitewash for clinical Fiji, before Onosai bagged a consolation second late on to take his personal RWC Sevens 2022 tally to five tries.
Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai after his side's win against Samoa saying, "Samoa is always a hard team to beat, they've been playing really well this year. We gave everything in that game.
"It's different from the Cape Town sevens we know (laughs). It's wet, it's slippery but can we do? We just adapt and we work hard as it's slippery and we try to connect in defence, and I think that's what helped us in that game."
Tonga, who defeated Jamaica 17-0 during their first match of the day, held a seven-point lead over Germany going into the final minute in their second match, however the Germans scored two tries in two minutes to turn the game on its head at the death, Bastian van der Bosch touching down the winning score on his 50th tournament appearance.
DAY THREE SCHEDULE
The final day of RWC Sevens action kicks off with men’s placement matches, which continue until the Bowl final between Germany and Uganda.
Championship placement matches in both men’s and women’s events follow until the semi-finals kick off.
The women are up first with New Zealand v France, followed by Australia and USA.
In the men’s Championship semi-finals Ireland face New Zealand and Australia are up against Fiji.
Challenge placement matches are next up, before the two finals in the second-tier event.
The placements from 5-8 will be decided next, before the two Bronze finals.
Finally, the action concludes with the showpiece Championship finals.
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream onwww.rwcsevens.comin countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.