Heartbreak for Cheetahs in Hong Kong

HONG KONG - Russia beat Zimbabwe 22-19 to win the World Rugby Sevens Series qualifier, a victory which leads Andrey Sorokin's side to become one of the 15 core sides on next year's series.

Starting with 12 regional qualifiers - two from each World Rugby region - Russia won all six of their matches to earn their place as an ever-present team on the 2015-16 Series replacing the bottom-ranked of the 15 current core teams at the end of the current series.

In the final it was Russia's Vladimir Ostroushko scoring the decisive try on the siren after Kuda Chiwanza looked to have secured a win for Zimbabwe moments earlier.

“It means a lot to us,” said an emotional Russian captain Dmitriy Perov.

“It allows our players to play more valuable games and gain experience and the win will be a motivation for the younger players too. Also a win like this will attract the fans and those involved with our sport, showing them we can win competitions and get to the World Series.”

Russia dominated Papua New Guinea in the quarter-finals with tries to Yury Gostyuzhev and Ilya Babaev giving the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 hosts a 12-7 lead at the break.

Ostroushko, who was named in the qualifier dream team, powered his way past several defenders to score midway through the second half before a Valadislav Sozonov try put the icing on Russia's 26-7 win and set up a final with Zimbabwe.

Trailing 7-0 after Spain's Cesar Sempere posted first points Zimbabwe responded with three unanswered tries to Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Stephan Hunduza and Boyd Rouse for a 19-7 lead at half-time.

Ignacioa Martin gave the Spaniards a glimmer of hope with a try to reduce the margin to five but Kilvan Magunje showed a clean pair of heels to extend the lead to 24-14, presenting the Africans with their first-ever win in a Series event over Spain.

The result also prevented Spain from immediately returning to the series after they were replaced by Japan last year having been relegated at the end of the season. – World Rugby

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