Giant Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo of favourites BGC APBs and former New Zealand sevens star Nafi Tuitavake of second seeds HSBC Penguins stood out on the first day of the GFI HKFC Tens as the top eight seeds progressed to the Cup quarter-finals.
The APBs, Penguins, fourth-ranked ULR Samurai International and sixth-seeded New Zealand Legends – all former finalists – each won their three pool games at Hong Kong Football Club, where all of the leading contenders are aiming to win the trophy for the first time.
The Bowl quarter-finals kick off at 10.40am on Thursday before the Cup quarters commence at 12.20pm, with the four losing teams entering the Plate semis.
With Rugby World Cup winner Mils Muliaina in their ranks, the star-studded APBs left it late before winning their Pool A decider 7-0 against an impressive Hill and Associates Scottish Barbarians side featuring four Scotland sevens internationals.
The game was scoreless with two minutes left when the 1.95-metre Nadolo powered down the left flank and slipped the ball inside to flyhalf Stephen Brett before Samoa centre Seilala Mapusua touched down to set up a quarter-final clash with International Panthers, runners-up to Penguins in Pool B.
Tana Umaga, head coach of the BGC APBs, paid tribute to his team and his star player, who are seeking to go one better than last year, when the side lost in the final on their tournament debut.
“We got there in the end, but that’s the talent we have. All credit to the Scottish, they really took it to us. They played the corners, put in a driving maul, then a ruck, kick and go, and that’s not our strength. It was really just a set-piece kind of game,” said Umaga, the former New Zealand captain who won 74 caps for the All Blacks.
“Nadolo’s break was the defining moment for us. That’s why we’ve got him in there. We give him the ball and hope something happens.
“I first saw him here in Hong Kong for our first runaround and he came and stood with the backs. I said: ‘What are you doing, mate? The forwards are over there.’ Then everyone laughed at me and told me he was a winger! He has so much power and pace.”
Penguins racked up 57-0 wins over both China Agricultural University (CAU) of Beijing and the HKRFU Chairman’s X before running out 69-0 winners over a Panthers side featuring former All Black winger Caleb Ralph. Penguins will face the Scottish Barbarians in the last eight.
Tuitavake scored six tries to top the scoring stakes after day one and the winger said Penguins were determined to finally win in Hong Kong after reaching the final in their two first appearances in 2007 and 2008.
“I wasn’t expecting our scores to be so big, but we played well and obviously a lot of our boys know each other well from NZ,” said Tuitavake, whose elder brother Anthony was set to play for the APBs but had to withdraw through injury.
“We were very surprised at the APBs because we expected them to be ahead of Scottish when we arrived at the pitch, but it was scoreless until that big winger (Nadolo) came running down the side. If Scottish can give them a game, other teams can as well. It’s my first time in Hong Kong with Penguins and we’ve come to win. ”
New Zealand Legends, Cup finalists in 2009, upset third seeds SRC Borneo Eagles 12-0 in the Pool C decider, and will take on Tag Heuer Pyrenees of France.
Samurai, finalists two years ago, beat Pyrenees 17-0 to top Pool D and will have a tough encounter against Borneo in the Cup quarter-finals.
Samurai are also eager to triumph in Hong Kong and add to last year’s wins in the UK National Sevens Series, November’s Paradise Sevens in Australia and December’s Dubai Sevens International Invitational.
In the Bowl quarter-finals, Irish Vikings play CAU, A-Trade Overseas Old Boys take on Newedge Club, Lloyd McDermott Dingoes of Australia face Australian Country Invitational, and the HKRFU Chairman’s X tackle Playmore’s Shanghai Devils.
Now TV is broadcasting live coverage of Thursday afternoon’s action on Now Sports 3 (Channel 633, 3.00pm-8.30pm), as well as a post-tournament highlights show.
The GFI HKFC Tens is HK$100 per ticket on Thursday (10.40am-8.30pm), with all of the proceeds donated to the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation (CNCF), the event’s official charity.
Former England internationals Steve Thompson, a 2003 Rugby World Cup winner, and Leon Lloyd will continue to help fundraising efforts in their roles as CNCF Ambassadors.
GFI, a leading brokerage service provider, has been the tournament’s title sponsor since 2006. Other sponsors this year include HSBC, UBS (both Gold Sponsors) and Swire Properties (Silver Sponsor), while official suppliers include Heineken (Beer), Tsunami Sport (Apparel) and Coast (Bar).Back >
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