Top seeds and runaway Series leaders New Zealand marched into the Cup quarter finals at the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens, rarely troubled on day two in scoring 85 points against Tunisia and the USA and conceding just one try.
The official IRB website reports that the kiwis have now won 39 consecutive matches and will be favourites on day two to land a title which has eluded them since 2001.
They are joined in the last eight by the other pool winners Fiji, England, Australia, Kenya and South Africa plus Wales and Samoa, who qualified as the two best second-placed teams on points difference.
Earlier China provided the tournament with its first major upset early on day two, coming from behind to beat the Scots 19-12. Hong Kong might have made it two upsets for Chinese teams later on, but France fought back for a 21-21 draw to deny the hosts their first win.
Cup quarter final line-up:
New Zealand v Wales
Kenya v Fiji
South Africa v Australia
Samoa v England
New Zealand’s forward power was again the driving force behind their continued dominance as they followed their 50-5 win on the opening day against Waisale Serevi’s Chinese Taipei with a comfortable victory over Tunisia 38-0, and the USA 47-7, in which Zar Lawrence and newcomer Nafi Tuitavake both scored two tries.
The USA finished a creditable second in the pool after battling wins over Tunisia and Chinese Taipei but their points difference was not strong enough to secure them a prized place in the Cup quarter finals as one of the two best runners-up. Tunisia romped past the Taiwanese in the remaining fixture.
England responded to the Hong Kong crowd’s considerable support by beating defending champions Samoa to top the pool. Samoa do, however, still reach the last eight where the two sides will face off again.
Samoa had looked odds-on to take the decider following their wins over Sri Lanka and Canada, Alafoti Fa’osiliva again impressing for the islanders, but England’s young side rose to the challenge and Ben Gollings’ crucial conversion of Simon Hunt’s try gave them the 7-5 win. Earlier Phil Mack inspired Canada to a crushing defeat of Sri Lanka.
Renfred Dazel sprinted clear on the final whistle to dash Argentinian hopes of reaching the Cup quarter finals. The Pumas had outplayed the Boks for much of the match and led until Dazel’s quick thinking clinched top spot, in doing so promoting Wales in the pecking order of second-placed sides.
The world’s leading Sevens marksman Santiago Gomez Cora was earlier back on the score sheet in the Pumas’ 19-5 win against Japan, while Russia finished third in the group after seeing off Japan.
Tries by William Ryder and Lepani Nabuliwaqa helped Fiji to a tight 15-0 victory over Wales to top Pool D. The Welsh defended valiantly to keep out the exciting Fijians and in restricting them to three tries also protected their own points difference enough to qualify for the Cup quarters.
Ryder was on sparkling form as Fiji earlier saw off Zimbabwe 42-14 to add to their 42-7 win against Korea on day one. Two tries by Lee Williams had helped the Welsh to victory over Korea, who were also beaten by Zimbabwe.
Two tries by captain Humphrey Kayange and a dramatically improved defensive effort inspired Kenya to a fine victory against Scotland, the Africans topping their pool for the first time since the 2003 Hong Kong tournament.
Earlier, China produced the shock of the day by also beating Scotland, captain Zhang ‘Jonny’ Zhiqiang ghosting over for the winner. The Chinese were unable, though, to follow on with victory over Portugal, Aderito Esteves and Pedro Leal each crossing for two tries in a 40-10 victory.
Caleb Brown’s last ditch try clinched victory for Australia against Tonga, 17-15, and top spot in the pool after earlier wins against Hong Kong and France.
Tonga slipped up against France on day one but were clinical in seeing off the hosts 56-5 in the opening match of day two to give themselves a chance before Australia dampened their spirits.
For the hosts baby-faced assassin Keith Robertson was in inspired form as Hong Kong drew 21-21 with France, condemning them to life outside the Cup competition.Tweet