IRB Sevens- day 1 full of suprises
Only Argentina remain unbeaten after day 1 of the NZI Sevens in Wellington, the day dished out an amazing amount of shocks.
Hosts New Zealand and Fiji suffered surprise losses early on against Wales and USA, Samoa lost to Fiji in a crucial game at the end of the day, England lost out against Argentina and Series leaders South Africa were pegged back in the penultimate match and finally beaten by a rampant Kenya. The men from central Africa were rallied by the local crowd and lifted to the occasion.
Entering the final match Australia were the only team capable of registering a 100% record but New Zealand rose to the challenge when they most needed to and beat their trans-Tasman rivals 26-19 without injured captain DJ Forbes.
The defending champion kiwis advance to the Cup quarter finals with Fiji, South Africa, Argentina, England, Wales, USA and Kenya.
2006 winners Samoa fail to make the last eight in the Cup after losing out to Fiji and USA on points difference, the same fate suffered by impressive Australia in their pool.
A run down on pool play:
Pool A - RSA, KEN, SCO, TON
South Africa followed up on their Cup victories in the first two events of the IRB Sevens World Series in Dubai and George with a near faultless display in Wellington, until Kenya proved them to be fallible late in the day.
Paul Treu's side hardly put a foot wrong in dispatching Scotland 24-0 and then a dangerous Tongan side 22-5 before building a lead against Kenya, only to be pipped at the death.
Kenya also opened with a victory, edging Tonga 21-14 in a fine match, but then lost to the Scots, who battled from behind to win only their second pool match of the season. Tonga beat Scotland, though, in their final pool match.
Pool B - NZL, AUS, WAL, NIU
Hosts New Zealand got their title defence off to a horrible start at the Westpac, losing to Wales 28-17 after playing much of the match with six men. Tomasi Cama was sent off for punching early on and the Welsh capitalised to secure a rare victory against the Kiwis.
New Zealand did recover to beat Niue in their second match and then held on in the face of a late Australian charge to beat their great rivals 26-19.
To underline the competitive nature of the rugby at the Westpac, Australia could have topped the pool but instead miss out on qualification for the Cup quarter finals on points difference, despite beating Wales.
Wales' 34-10 victory over Niue in their final pool match confirmed their place in the Cup quarter finals.
Pool C - ENG, ARG, FRA, CAN
England impresed in winning their two opening matches, first coming from behind twice to overpower France 26-10 and then seeing off Canada 34-7, captain Ollie Phillips and Ben Gollings impressing. However, they then came unstuck against the combattive Pumas of Argentina, who topped the group.
The Pumas were held to a 17-all draw by a battling Canada side making their Series debut this season, before beating France 33-21 and finished the day as the only side unbeaten.
Canada and France played out an absorbing match to finish their day one campaigns, ending dead-locked at 12-12 - a second draw for the Canadians.
Pool D - FIJ, SAM, USA, CKI
Al Caravelli's USA side booked its place in a second successive IRB Sevens World Series Cup quarter final with a treasured win over Fiji and further impressive displays against Samoa and finally the Cook Islands.
The Eagles shocked Fiji in the third match of the day, Justin Boyd scoring at the death to win 15-10, but they later went down to Samoa in a fine match. Captain Chris Wyles twice put the Eagles ahead before the islanders pulled clear to win 26-17. The Americans' comfortable victory against the Cook Islands ensured a strong enough points difference to see them through.
The Samoans earlier scraped past the Cook Islands 12-5 but, with Fiji having recovered in their second match to overwhelm the Cooks 55-0, the Samoans missed out on a Cup quarter final place on points difference after losing to Fiji in their final match.