Sevens lose Plate final in what could be a swansong

Scotland's Damien Hoyland bursts clear against South Africa. Picture: Jane Barlow
Scotland's Damien Hoyland bursts clear against South Africa. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Scotland Sevens lost to South Africa 12-10 in the Plate final on a rain-hit second day of the Emirates Airline Glasgow 7s yesterday as Fiji won the Cup to go top of the standings with one event to go.

If this, as seems likely, was the last Scottish event on the world sevens calendar for some time it bowed out from the birthplace of the abbreviated game with the host nation falling just short of a silver lining.

The national Sevens squad are reported to be learning their fate on Thursday ahead of the final event at Twickenham this weekend. With Scotland expected to be losing its leg on the HSBC World Series next year there are grave doubts about the continuation of a fully professional national sevens squad.

Scotland certainly made a point yesterday with creditable displays against two of the sport’s powerhouses – New Zealand and South Africa.

Coach Calum MacRae, who has the side on the verge of a best-ever seventh place in the final standings ahead of this weekend’s final tournament of the season in London, said: “The passion, professionalism and ability they showed was an absolute credit to them.”

Scotland have never beaten New Zealand at any level in the sport and that wait continues, though MacRae’s men made a decent fist of things after a slightly underwhelming first day when narrow wins over Portugal and Wales were followed by a 45-5 thumping by the Fijians.

Drizzly conditions earlier in the day had made it greasy underfoot and the ball was like a bar of soap but the Scots started impressively with some good handling, controlled defence and took the fight to the Kiwis, but lost out 17-7 and were relegated to the Plate, where they faced Canada in the semi-finals.

Scotland got on the front foot early and Russell Weir squeezed over under the posts for the first score and Gregor converted. Canada hit back after the break as Sean Duke crashed over for an unconverted score in the corner and then Pat Kay strolled between the sticks to put the men in red 12-7 ahead. The Scots were not to be denied, however, and Joseva Nayacavou broke through on the hooter and Gregor knocked over the conversion to seal a place in the final.

The rain had returned with a vengeance by the time of the Plate final against the Blitzboks, who had been knocked off 15-0 by Fiji in the Cup quarters.

South Africa got off to a flier as Ruhan Nel strode in at the right corner for an unconverted opener and they scored again on the stroke of half-time as Werner Kok sprinted in and Branco du Preez converted to make it 12-0.

The Scots struck first after the break to breathe some life into the tie as James Johnstone squeezed in at the corner, with Weir failing to convert.