The Algarve leg of the Rugby Europe Sevens Championship Series displayed continued to showcase more fantastic rugby on the second day of this three-day tournament.
This morning began with the third, and final, matches in each pool. Those in attendance for the early kick offs witnessed three brilliant games between the top two sides in each pool in the Women’s competition. Poland edged past Belgium to take top spot in Pool A, whilst France produced a stunning performance to thump Great Britain 33-12, ensuring Les Bleus finished first in Pool C.
A particularly tense, nervy finish played out in the decider for top spot in Pool B between Spain and Ireland. With the Irish side down for a good part of the second half were down to six players owing to a yellow card, they looked to be hanging onto the draw. Spain on the other hand, with all the momentum having come back to be able to win the game, chose to kick the ball out when the hooter sounded. This meant that Ireland won the group on points difference.
Joining the three pool winners in the quarter- finals were Germany, Spain, Great Britain, Czechia and Belgium.
A similar script played out in the Men’s competition, with the final round of group stage fixtures deciding who would finish top of the group. In Pool A, a stunning comeback victory by Spain saw them wrestle top spot off hosts Portugal. Germany defeated Italy to claim top spot, whilst Ireland overcame a stern test presented by Great Britain to end in first place.
The three top-placed teams were joined by Georgia, France, Germany, Great Britain and Portugal.
Moving onto the knockout stage, Poland v Germany was the first quarter-final to be played in the Women’s competition. A fantastic display of attacking rugby meant Poland scored five tries, and their defence proved to be just as strong as they kept Germany pointless in a 31-0 win.
Ireland and France proved to just as fluid in attack, as they ran out victors in their matches against Czechia (22-5) and Belgium (36-0), respectively. The last quarter-final proved to be an arm-wrestle, with both Spain and Great Britain having periods of dominance in a back-and-forth contest. The Brits would come out on top though, edging this encounter 14-10.
In the Men’s competition, Great Britain eventually saw off Germany in a 22-12 victory to set up a rematch in the Semi-Final with Ireland, whose experience came to the fore as the men in green defeated Portugal. This was an impressive victory given the raucous home support for the Portuguese side.
France were too strong for Italy, and so the biggest surprise at this stage off the competition was produced by Georgia. The Georgians outplayed one of the tournament favourites in Spain, scoring 24 points to the Spaniards’ 12.
Their match with France tomorrow will be particularly intriguing, and the crowd in the Algarve awaits to see whether this side can carry out another upset.
The Semi-Finals begin at 11:14am local time tomorrow, with Poland facing Great Britain, while the rest of the action gets underway at 10:30.
By Paul Wilkinson
Photos by Travis Prior, Kobe Prior, Rhodri Williams and Neil Kennedy