United States advances on day of shocks at NZ Sevens

BY foxsports • February 6, 2015

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) The United States prospered on a day of upsets at the New Zealand Rugby Sevens on Friday, topping a pool for the first time in 15 years and for only the second time in the history of the World Series.

France upset World Series leaders South Africa and the day continued with a series of upsets which meant quarterfinal places were often decided by point differentials rather than win-loss records.

South Africa needed to score four tries and beat the United States in its final match in Pool A to reach the quarterfinals and did so, eliminating France.

The other teams progressing to the quarterfinals were Kenya and Scotland from Pool D, Fiji and Australia from Pool C and England plus host New Zealand from Pool B.

New Zealand and England had already qualified for the quarterfinals when they met in the final match of the day, which decided which team finished top of the group.

England scored first but New Zealand hit back with two tries to Sherwin Stowers and others to Scott Curry and schoolboy Rieko Ioane, playing in his first World Series tournament, to win 24-5.

''It was going to be a real test, that last match of the night,'' New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. ''They started better than us but we kicked back really well.

''It was good to see a few younger players, giving them a debut against a team like England and they came through with flying colors.''

New Zealand will play Australia and England will play Fiji while South Africa will play Kenya and the United States will play Scotland in Saturday's Cup quarterfinals.

Fiji was impressive in winning all three of its matches, beating Portugal 31-19, Wales 42-19 and Australia 14-5. But it suffered a major setback when two of its players were red-carded and face suspensions for dangerous tackles.

England's Richard de Carpentier was also red-carded for a tip tackle during the match against New Zealand.

Kenya beat Samoa 28-7 to claim its quarterfinal place with veteran Collins Injera scoring his 190th career try.

The Wellington tournament is the fourth of nine rounds of the Sevens World Series. The top-four ranked teams at the end of nine rounds will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic tournament when the sport makes its Olympic debut.

South Africa currently leads the World Series standings from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

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