The top teams from Dubai took their form into round two today in Sydney.
Ireland had one of their best-ever opening days in Sydney (Photo: Michael Lee @ KLC fotos/ World Rugby)
The top three from Rio and Dubai (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Russia) all made it through to the last eight in Sydney on Day One.
Ireland – as we suggested in our preview – took full advantage of the best draw they have been given in the World Series, also made the last eight finishing runners up in Pool B, the United States also came back strongly from Dubai to finish second in Pool C, while France and Fiji were the top third place teams.
This meant that England failed to the qualify reach a Cup quarter-final for the first time in the history of the competition, the experience of the core of the squad not being enough to balance the younger new faces.
The day had started for England, who beat a strong looking Spain 19-10 in the opening game of the tournament after racing into a 14-0 lead after just four minutes. Spain pulled two tries back, but Jo Richardson-Watmore’s try with four minutes lead gave England the cushion they need to see out the game.
The only “surprise” in Round One was Ireland’s 19-12 win over Fiji, a game they lead throughout but still needed to see out a tense final play to hang on for a deserved win.
The highlight of round two was England’s reverse to USA, going down 22-14, a game where England lead until the last minute before two Alex Kelter tries reversed the result. However, France came to an even bigger shock with their inexperienced team leading New Zealand until four minutes from the end when a Brazier try stole the game for the Dubai winners. However, the defeat by only two points was to prove crucial to the French making the last eight.
The United States, buoyed up with their win over England, swept past Spain to finish runners-up in Pool C while England lost to Russia 31-5 - the 26-point deficit ensuring they missed out on the quarter-finals.
The final game of the day was the much anticipated matchup between the Olympic silver and bronze medalists – and it went decisively to the former, New Zealand beating Canada 31-10.
The Cup quarters will see New Zealand play France again, before Ireland take on USA in the top of the draw. The bottom of the draw sees Australia face Fiji and Russia meet Canada, which – almost regardless of results – should lead to a fascinating semi-final.
Elsewhere, England play Papua New Guinea and Spain face Brazil in the Challenge Trophy.
The semi-finals, Gold final, Bronze final and 5th and 7th place games will all take place in the main stadium. The quarter-finals and the Challenge competition will be played on the Kippax training field.
Pool A, Canada 26-5 France; New Zealand 34-5 Papua New Guinea; Canada 39-5 Papua New Guinea; New Zealand 14-12 France; France 31-10 Papua New Guinea; New Zealand 31-10 Canada
Pool B: Fiji 12-19 Ireland; Australia 24-7 Brazil; Fiji 31-10 Brazil; Australia 29-0 Ireland; Ireland 33-5 Brazil; Australia 26-17 Fiji
Pool C: England 19-10 Spain; Russia 19-10 USA; England 14-22 USA; Russia 24-5 Spain; Spain 5-20 USA; Russia 31-5 England;
Cup Quarter-finals: New Zealand v France; Ireland v USA; Australia v Fiji; Russia v Canada
Challenge Semi-finals: England v Papua New Guinea; Spain v Brazil