Fiji beats NZ to impress on Day 1 of London Sevens
Fiji can’t take the series this weekend, but a fourth consecutive tournament victory would make clinching easier in the series finale next weekend in Paris. Fiji is hunting a third series title in four years before taking aim at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in July.
Meanwhile, defending two-time London champion Scotland failed to win a match in the same pool as Fiji, New Zealand, and Argentina, and invited side Ireland reached a quarterfinals in the series for the first time.
Fiji began the day slowly, as it came from behind three times against Argentina. Then it crushed Scotland 39-12 and looked even better taking apart New Zealand.
Amenoni Nasilasila opened the scoring from a kick through, Josua Tuisova went over from a break down the sideline, and Semi Radradra, who starred in the Barbarians’ win against England last weekend on the same ground, powered over for 17-0 at halftime.
More tries by Tuisova and Waisea Nacuqu pushed it to 27-0 before New Zealand mustered a reply.
Ireland, Wales, and Spain beat each other in their pool but Ireland won out on points difference to finish runner-up to Australia. Ireland became the first invited team to make a quarterfinals since Japan in 2016 at Las Vegas.
South Africa, which lost the series lead to Fiji in the last round in Singapore, welcomed back Seabelo Senatla after he missed four rounds. They sailed past Russia and Canada but were cut down by an inconsistent Samoa 21-12.
The U.S. conceded a late equalizing try to Kenya, which couldn’t nail a winning conversion. The Americans then pursued a comeback against host England.
England’s Dan Norton scored two tries for a 14-5 lead, but the U.S. gradually overhauled the lead by looking after the ball better in contact. The U.S. led 19-14 when Norton was sin-binned, and Carlin Isles took advantage with a pair to beat England 31-14.
England had to beat Kenya in the last match of the day to advance, and won 38-12.