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Titleholder Samoa miss out on Dubai 7s quarters

November 29, 2013

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Defending champion Samoa failed to reach the Dubai Sevens rugby quarterfinals after successive pool defeats to Argentina and South Africa on Friday.

Samoa blew a 12-0 lead in losing to Argentina 19-12, and crumbled under South African pressure 26-5.

Both winners advanced to the last eight, South Africa unbeaten along with New Zealand, Fiji and Wales. The latter two are bidding for their first Dubai titles.

The quarters on Saturday are New Zealand vs. Argentina, Fiji vs. Scotland, South Africa vs. Kenya, and Wales vs. England.

It’s the third time in the last four tournaments, dating to last season, Samoa hasn’t made the quarters.

Samoa beat Argentina at the Gold Coast season-opener last month and was 12-0 up on Friday when Argentina rallied with tries by Matias Moroni and a chip-and-chase to Diego Palma to go ahead 14-12. Palma secured the win in the ninth minute with his second try, starting from a lineout. A bounced pass made Samoa hesitate and Palma hared away down the left sideline.

Samoa had to beat South Africa to advance, and was in the match at 12-5 down with two minutes to go. Samoa forced a turnover 10 meters out from its tryline but kicked straight to a South African, and Werner Kok accepted the decisive, gift try.

South Africa also beat Argentina 17-7 and Russia 34-5.

Gold Coast champion New Zealand mowed down Kenya, France and Portugal, conceding only five points.

Fiji was fortunate in beating Canada 26-19, Jona Tuitoga’s tying try at the hooter coming from a knockon. Canada took out its frustration on the United States with a record 41-7 hiding.

Fiji blew another big lead against England, as Mike Ellery scored twice in the second-to-last minute to cut England’s deficit from 19 to five with a minute to go. But in England’s last shot, a tired Ellery was turned over and Fiji prevailed against a team it lost to in Dubai’s 2004 and 2005 finals and 2011 semifinals.

Scotland came back from 17-7 down to beat Australia 21-17, only its fifth win in 30 matches with the Aussies. Then Australia, the Gold Coast runner-up, was eliminated by Wales 19-14 in a back-and-forth tussle. James Davies scored the decisive try from spilled Australian ball and raced in from 60 meters out, but Australia charged back again, and with a try beckoning the final pass was a poor one.

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