Great Britain scraped into the Olympic rugby sevens semi-finals with a dramatic extra-time win over Argentina.
In normal time, the score finished 0-0, an incredibly rare score in any form of rugby, with both sides getting within five metres of a match-winning try. On the last play of regulation time, and with both sides with a player in the sin bin, Argentina had a penalty to win the match, but the drop-kick was missed by captain Gaston Revol. We then went to golden point extra time, meaning the next score would win the match. Team GB were awarded a penalty, around 35 metres out, and Tom Mitchell’s attempt had the distance but it hit the post. The subsequent rebound was then unfortunately knocked on by an Argentinean hand, giving GB a scrum in dangerous position. The ball was spun out to Dan Bibby, and with support on the outside, he sold the defender a dummy, and went over for the match-winning try.
Earlier, the British team had defeated New Zealand 21-19 in a superb performance, with tries from Mark Bennett, James Davies and Dan Norton. A late All Black try and conversion proved crucial, as it put them through to the knockout stages as one of the two best third placed sides, but by just a single point on points difference.
But New Zealand’s poor form at the tournament continued as they were knocked out of medal contention by number one seeds Fiji 12-7. Fiji are in the hunt for a first ever Olympic medal, and with surprise story Japan facing them in Thursday’s semi-final, they will be very confident of getting to the final.
As for Japan, they finished second behind Great Britain but ahead of New Zealand in Pool C, which gave them a quarter-final clash against France. Damien Cler put the French ahead, but tries just either side of half-time from Teruya Goto and Lote Tuqiri (cousin of the former Australian winger of the same name) ensured Japan would reach the last four.
Second seeds South Africa had a change of fortunes on day two in the Deodoro Stadium, but they do take the final place on day four. After keeping two clean sheets on Tuesday, South Africa lost to Australia 12-5, meaning that along with France, all three of those sides in Pool B finished on seven points. The Springboks had the superior points difference and topped the group, meaning they faced the Australians again in the quarter-finals. They brought their A game this time in a superb 22-5 victory, with Roscko Speckman, Seabelo Senatla, Kyle Brown and Cecil Afrika all on the scoreboard.
South Africa will now face Great Britain in the semi-final on Thursday, and given what we’ve seen so far at the tournament, it is impossible to call.