Rugby Union: Wales are denied by last-gasp try
Saturday 22 March 1997
The first day's matches were, in essence, warm-up matches with no one knocked out but the results and number of tries scored deciding the seeding for today's second round.
Wales were the main hard luck story of the first day, drawing 12-12 with Namibia and then losing 26-24 to Western Samoa despite leading with less than a minute to go. That left them ranked 16 of the 24 teams, below the likes of Zimbabwe, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Ravaged by injuries, they seemed set for victory against Samoa thanks to a try with 45 seconds remaining by Gareth Wyatt but they were penalised for the kick-off not going 10 yards, and then allowed Semo Sititi to break through three tired challenges for the decisive score.
Wales now face the top seeds Fiji, seven time Hong Kong winners, in the early hours of this morning. Namibia will again be among the opposition in the group stage which decides who reaches the quarter-finals.
The eight winners of the groups go into tomorrow's knock-out competition with the second and third placed teams going into consolation competitions.
Wales could stake a claim for the try of the first day when Pontypridd's Kevin Morgan took the ball behind his own posts before finding a gap to race just over 100 metres for the score against Namibia.
England, defending the title they surprisingly won at Murrayfield four years ago, had a relatively easy day with two wins over Canada, 33-12, and Zimbabwe, 26-7. Seeded six, they play the Cook Islands and Canada today.
The only bad news for on England was the injury to Richard Hill who limped off early in the Zimbabwe game after aggravating an old ankle problem.
Ireland lost both their games, 31-22 against Argentina and 38-5 to South Africa, to be seeded 18th. The good news is that they are in the same group as the hosts, Hong Kong. The bad news is that they have to play South Africa again.
Scotland, seeded ninth, will face Australia again. It took the special skills of David Campese to save the Wallabies from defeat in the first game. Coming on as a substitute with his side trailing 19-5 he led the comeback and his late conversion levelled the scores at 19-19. The other team in their group is Portugal.
Sevens experts Fiji lived up to their billing as favourites, topping the seedings after totalling 104 points without reply.
New Zealand, winners of the Hong Kong Sevens for the past three years, were never stretched as they defeated Japan 47-14 and Tonga 21-7. By a quirk of the seedings, they play the same teams again.
Results, Sporting Digest, page 31
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