Both of the sides in contention for the Sevens World Series crown, leaders New Zealand and challengers Fiji, went unbeaten on Day One of the Glasgow Sevens to top their pools and remain on a collision course.
Wales notched a first ever World Series win against South Africa to top their pool and England edged Tokyo champions Australia in the final match of the day at Scotstoun Stadium.
Hosts Scotland beat Russia but suffered narrow defeats to Wales and South Africa, and line up in the Bowl on Sunday.
England v South Africa
Fiji v Samoa
Wales v Australia
New Zealand v Argentina
(Australia, England, USA, Kenya)
England sit atop Pool A after edging Tokyo winners Australia 19-14 in the final match of the day, James Rodwell scoring the only try of the second half after the traditional sporting rivals, who had exchanged victories in the previous two events, had both scored two tries in the first seven minutes.
Australia may have arrived in Glasgow as the top seeds after their victory in Tokyo, but they had to dig deep to see off the challenges of both the USA and Kenya earlier. The USA had led 14-12 at half time only for tries from Shannon Walker, Con Foley and Junior Rasolea to see the Australians home to a 29-14 win.
Then, by contrast, Australia raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first half against Kenya with captain Ed Jenkins among the try scorers before the Kenyans hit back bravely. There was dancing on the pitch and in the stands as they scored 26 unanswered points. However, heartbreak was to come when Lewis Holland raced away and then literally limped over the line in the dying seconds to tie the scores. Matt Lucas again proving Australia's hero with the conversion, just as he had been in the Tokyo final.
In the very next match England also had to play their own get-out-of-jail card. Ben Ryan's side led 12-0 at half time against the USA but the advantage was wiped out by Colin Hawley and Rocco Mauer tries. Mat Turner spared England's blushes, though, touching down with a minute to go to seal a 19-12 win. Turner had earlier scored two tries as England began with a convincing 40-7 victory over Kenya.
The win did eventually come for the USA in their battle for third place in Pool B with Kenya, a brace of tries from Rocco Mauer securing the 29-14 victory following the touch downs from Mike Palefau, Andrew Durutalo and Nu'u Punimata in the first half.
Australia 29-14 USA
England 40-7 Kenya
Australia 28-26 Kenya
England 19-12 USA
USA 29-14 Kenya
England 19-14 Australia
(Samoa, New Zealand, France, Spain)
New Zealand finished top of Pool B after winning a tight battle with Samoa 22-21, avenging their loss to the same opponents in the Tokyo Cup semifinals last month. Waisake Naholo grabbed another first half brace as New Zealand raced into a 10-0 lead inside two minutes, only for Samoa to hit back to lead 14-10 at the break. There was to be no denying New Zealand though with Bryce Heem and Salesi Piutau tries seeing the men in black home, despite a Samoan consolation try in the dying seconds.
Samoa had looked rusty in their opening two matches and were somewhat fortunate to escape with a 24-17 win against a spirited Spainish outfit who will be joining the World Series as a core team next season. Spain deservedly led 17-12 with a couple of minutes to play, but missed tackles allowed Alafoti Faosiliva to race clear and score. Samoa had also taken time to get going in their first match under new coach Faamoni Lalomilo against France before ultimately winning 22-14 with Alatasi Tupou scoring twice.
By contrast, Series leaders New Zealand were in scintillating form in their second match against France, captain DJ Forbes - in his 50th IRB Sevens tournament - scoring the first of his side's 10 tries in the 66-0 win. Waisake Naholo scored the second hat-trick of the day, while Tomasi Cama scored two tries in a 26-point haul. New Zealand had earlier scored five tries in a 31-5 victory over Spain, who were rewarded with the biggest cheer of the match when Cesar Sempere touched down.
Having gone so close against Samoa, Spain were rewarded for their efforts with a 19-7 win over France, the first time they have come out on top in five World Series meetings against them. Marcus Poggi scored the only try of a tight first half before Sempere and Javier Carrion touched down to secure the win that Spain had targeted from day one.
Samoa 22-14 France
New Zealand 31-5 Spain
Samoa 24-17 Spain
New Zealand 66-0 France
Spain 19-7 France
New Zealand 22-21 Samoa
(Fiji, Argentina, Portugal, Zimbabwe)
Fiji kept up the pressure on Series leaders New Zealand by storming into the Cup quarterfinals as Pool C winners following a comprehensive 47-7 defeat of Argentina in the decider, never looking back after captain Setefano Cakau scored the first of their seven tries just 18 seconds into the match. Cakau would add a second with Joeli Lutumailagi also scoring a brace.
Fiji had earlier sent an ominous message to their rivals with an impressive 40-0 defeat of Zimbabwe in their first match, Metuisela Talebula scoring the first hat-trick of the Glasgow Sevens in a 25-point haul. Joji Baleviani Raqamate, Lutumailagi and Waisea Nayacalevu also touched down for the Fijians. Cakau then scored the first try to set them on the road to a 28-5 victory over Portugal.
Argentina, meanwhile, were made to work much harder for their victories over Portugal and Zimbabwe. It took Francisco Merello's try in the dying seconds to break the deadlock and give Argentina a 19-14 victory against the plucky Africans, while second half tries from Gaston Revol and Agustin Migliore sealed a 17-5 win to preserve their record of never having lost to Portugal in the World Series.
Portugal, who will join the World Series as a core team next season, finished the day strongly with a well-deserved 24-14 win over Zimbabwe to finish third in Pool C. Pedro Leal scored all his side's points in the first half, including two tries, before Martim Bettencourt Avila and Francisco Magalhaes made certain of victory with touch downs.
Argentina 17-5 Portugal
Fiji 40-0 Zimbabwe
Argentina 19-14 Zimbabwe
Fiji 28-5 Portugal
Portugal 24-14 Zimbabwe
Fiji 47-7 Argentina
(South Africa, Scotland, Wales, Russia)
Still looking for a first title of the season, South Africa were given scares by both Russia and Scotland but came out with two narrow victories to the relief of coach Paul Treu. They looked comfortable leading 17-0 at half time in their first match, but Russia battled back bravely to trail 17-14 with tries by Yury Gostyuzhev and Stanislav Bondarev.
Next up, against Scotland, the Blitzbokke needed a second try of the match by Frankie Horne to triumph 19-14, silencing the home crowd who had raised the roof when two tries from captain Colin Gregor had put the Scots in sight of only a third win in 26 meetings between the sides.
It was the second time Scotland had been denied by a single score, Wales having earlier sneaked a 17-14 victory thanks to Rhys Shellard's last-minute try. Shellard was again on the scoresheet as Wales scored five tries - two of them by Lee Williams - to cancel out Alexander Yanyuskin's early try in a 31-5 victory against Russia.
The crowd did finally get a Scotland victory to celebrate when the hosts proved too strong for Russia, running out 33-5 winners thanks to tries from Ross Miller, John Houston, Andrew Turnbull and Michael Fedo. The hopes of a first Cup quarterfinal of the season had already gone with the narrow defeats by Wales and South Africa.
Wales 17-14 Scotland
South Africa 17-14 Russia
South Africa 19-14 Scotland
Wales 31-5 Russia
Scotland 33-5 Russia
Wales 17-5 South Africa
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