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Glasgow 7s: Scotland's purple patch

A day at the Emirates Airline Glasgow Sevens is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Scotland's James Eddie defies challenges from Americans Garret Bender and Palefau Photograph: SNS
Scotland's James Eddie defies challenges from Americans Garret Bender and Palefau Photograph: SNS

Nine hours, 24 matches, enough lager to fill Hogganfield Loch? Come the early evening, the "party stand" must have reeked like Noah's Ark.

You need a fairly strong constitution to deal with the event's abundant rigours. If your ears are not being assaulted by the din of thumping music, then your eyes are being traumatised by the kind of gaudy fancy dress not seen since Liberace went guising.

In these all-singing, all-dancing affairs, the fun is enforced and those in attendance must obey. In terms of contrived joviality, it's a bit like pulling Christmas crackers on a plane that's hurtling towards a crash landing. You're only allowed so much enjoyment, mind you.

Egged on by organisers to batter an inflatable ball about the stand, the crowd's happy flapping was brought to a booing halt when two security jobsworths confiscated the bouncing bundle. Even the Grim Reaper wasn't that much of a killjoy.

On the pitch, the oval ball was being tossed around in eye-catching abandon. Fiji, always a jinking, juggling delight in the sevens format, got their day off to a purposeful start with a 26-7 victory over Argentina in the opening match of the morning before the Canadians, an increasingly powerful force on the global sevens scene, ran in eight tries against Japan in a rampaging 52-0 victory en route to a fifth successive quarter-final qualification. New Zealand, the all-conquering giants of the abbreviated game who are on the cusp of a 12th World Series title, and South Africa, last year's champions in Glasgow, conjured routine victories as they swiftly found their feet on the Scotstoun turf.

But it was the hosts Scotland, currently 12th in the series standings, who raised a few eyebrows, and plenty of spirits, with a surprising defeat of fifth-placed Australia. Decked out in shirts the colour of purple heather, the Scots set the aforementioned clumpy stuff alight with an industrious, inventive, resilient display that was rewarded with a 19-7 win. With a squad bolstered by seasoned internationalists like Nick De Luca and Richie Vernon, the national coach, Stephen Gemmell, was eager to see his side "lay down a marker" ahead of this summer's Commonwealth Games.

They certainly did that against the Australians. Despite falling behind early on, the Scots, who won the consolation Bowl on their last outing in Hong Kong, rallied and a double-whammy of tries from Scott Riddell and Colin Edgar turned the match on its head before Lee Jones eased over the line in the last knockings to put the tin lid on a tasty triumph.

"It's just one game and quality teams back performances like that up," said a cautious Gemmell as he quickly set his sights on the next match against the USA. There would be no resting on laurels, though. Any fears that the Americans would toss a Star Spangled Spanner into the Scottish works were swiftly crushed as the home side, aided by De Luca's first sevens try since 2006, powered to a commanding 26-0 win.

With the hosts limbering up for a final tie with Spain, the focus switched to the big-hitting bout between New Zealand and South Africa to decide the outcome of Group A. The South Africans, who beat the All Blacks in the 2013 Scotstoun showpiece, trail New Zealand by just seven points in the overall series standings but the Kiwis showed them who is boss with a 19-5 win.

With Australia beating the USA, Scotland needed to overcome Spain to top Group D and their magnificent sevens continued as an early brace from James Eddie set them on their way to a 33-12 win and a quarter-final tussle with the South Africans. There was just time to muck out that party stand before it all started again this morning.

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