New Zealand, winners in Cape Town and the hosts of this fourth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, are one of four unbeaten teams progressing into the Cup quarter-finals following an action-packed opening day in Hamilton.
They lead the way alongside South Africa, Kenya and Fiji as the series stops in Hamilton for the first time after the New Zealand event moved from Wellington where it was hosted since 2000.
The All Blacks Sevens will face England in the Cup quarter-finals with South Africa booking an encounter with Scotland. Kenya will meet Sydney champions Australia and the last Cup quarter-final will be between Fiji and Samoa from 12:36 local time (GMT +13) on Sunday.
Vilimoni Koroi was New Zealand's leading points scorer on day one with 24 and while he was pleased with the majority of their day, their focus remains sharp heading into day two.
“We didn’t get the result that we wanted last week so we’ve come into this week with a lot of detail about what we wanted to achieve,” he said. “It really showed in our first two games but Argentina really took it to the wire in that last game which really gave us a wake-up call for tomorrow.”
The Challenge Trophy quarter-finals will be Wales v Canada, Argentina v Russia, USA v Spain and Papua New Guinea v France.
Australia's captain Lewis Holland was unable to make the trip to Hamilton due to injury and as a result James Stannard stepped into the role. His side started well with a 21-5 victory over Spain and a four-try win over Wales followed. Ben O'Donnell crossed twice against Wales to take his tally to 18 tries so far this season and that paved the way for a pool decider with Fiji.
Gareth Baber’s side had opened their Hamilton account with a try during minute one of their first game against Wales. Eroni Sau’s five-pointer was then followed by three others to secure a comfortable 28-0 victory.
Fiji's second win was a more challenging test and the 24-12 result over Spain required the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series winners of 2015 and 2016 to navigate their way through a period with just five on the field after two yellow cards.
The pool decider between Australia and Fiji set pulses racing with the Fijians holding a narrow 12-10 lead at the break thanks to one of the team tries of the day. Lachie Anderson put Australia back ahead before Fiji took control again and their free-flowing rugby pushed them to a 26-15 victory.
England started their campaign with a comfortable 47-0 result against Russia. The seven-try encounter included braces from Ruaridh McConnochie and 19-year-old Ryan Olowofela. Next was a 27-0 victory over Papua New Guinea in which Tom Bowen scored his 50th try on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. These two wins set up their pool decider with South Africa.
The Blitzboks, runners-up in Sydney and defending HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions, began the fourth round by overpowering a determined Papua New Guinea outfit 36-5. Seabelo Senatla and Rosko Specman scored four tries between them with Eugene Tokavai running in Papua New Guinea's five-pointer.
Neil Powell's side were almost kept scoreless in the first seven minutes against Russia before Specman's quick-thinking off a late penalty opened their account. The Blitzboks pushed through the gears in the second half and finished 38-0 victors.
The pool decider saw South Africa march into the quarter-finals at pace with a 28-5 win. Tim Agaba opened the scoring after just three minutes and that was swiftly followed by another brace from Senatla, who would finish the day as the top points and try scorer. Specman added their third before England claimed a consolation try with the final play.
New Zealand laid down an early marker to their rivals as they showed that they may well be a force to be reckoned with on home soil.
A total of eight tries kick-started their Pool C campaign with their co-captain Scott Curry delivering a brace and Tim Mikkelson scoring his 1,000th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series point during their 52-7 victory over France. Next up was another comfortable victory over Scotland with Mikkelson moving closer to another milestone being just one away from a century of tries in series history.
Argentina’s opener with Scotland was a classic game of two halves. After losing Gastón Revol to injury in the opening minutes the Sydney bronze medallists turned around a 14-point deficit to snatch victory. Franco Sabato’s 81st try on the series got them off the mark before Luciano Gonzalez delivered the winning score.
After that loss, and one to New Zealand, Scotland rallied with a key victory over France. The result put them back into contention for a Cup quarter-final place with the final game of the day to come - Argentina against the All Blacks Sevens.
New Zealand scored directly off the kick-off, however, Argentina held a 12-5 lead at the break after testing the hosts like no other side had done. The All Blacks hit back with two tries and Joe Webber's final conversion meant that the points difference in Pool C finished in Scotland's favour and they progressed into the last eight instead of Argentina.
Kenya topped Pool D after the first two rounds of matches courtesy of their 19-14 victories over Samoa and Canada.
Samoa's loss to Kenya, but late 14-10 victory over the USA, meant that they had to win their final encounter against Canada by more than 10 points to progress into the Cup quarter-finals.
Sir Gordon Tietjens' side surged into a 17-0 lead before Canada responded and Luke Bradley's 13th-minute converted try meant that the encounter finished 22-14. That result opened the door for the USA and their final meeting with Kenya was a thriller.
The Kenyans started the faster of the two before Perry Baker, who had become the USA's all-time leading try scorer earlier in the day, made it 19-7 after seven minutes.
After the break Carlin Isles struck with a double and that levelled proceedings at 19-19. However, Innocent Simiyu's team held strong because they knew that a draw was enough to ensure that they progressed into the Cup quarter-finals and as a result they took Samoa along with them.
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