Australia, South Africa, England and Fiji all achieved perfect records to top their pools on day one of the HSBC Singapore Sevens after an action-packed day of rugby at the Singapore National Stadium.
Coming into the tournament South Africa lead the overall standings by just three points ahead of Fiji who have won the last two tournaments in succession.
This year’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has been one of the most competitive yet, with just two stops left on the Series there is everything for teams to play for at the HSBC Singapore Sevens.
Day two will see Fiji will play New Zealand in a rematch of the recent Commonwealth Games final in the opening Cup quarter-finals game, followed by South Africa who will take on 2016 HSBC Singapore Sevens winners Kenya. Australia will face Spain and England, who took home bronze in the tournament last year will play Samoa.
The Challenge Trophy quarter-finals will be Japan v Wales, Canada v France, Scotland v Russia and USA v Argentina
Pool A (Fiji, Spain, Russia, Japan)
Fiji and Spain progress out of Pool A and the duo went into their final meeting, the last game day one, off the back of productive earlier victories for both teams.
Spain, after their best finish of the season in Hong Kong, set out their stall early in the day to reach another set of Cup quarter-finals. The outfit commenced with a 38-5 victory over Russia and with Pol Pla scoring a brace alongside four other try-scorers as they put six past their opponents.
It was followed up by a four-try victory over Japan with Pla notching up his second brace of the day in the process.
Fiji overpowered Japan in their opening game leading 21-0 at the break. Japan, who recently secured a place as a core team on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series next season hit back twice before Fiji went up a gear and ran out 45-12 victors.
Fiji then met Russia and reached a key milestone during the first seven minutes as Waisea Nacuqu scored their 4000th try on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Once again they build on their half-time lead [17-7] and set up the pool-deciding game with Spain which they navigated their way through well despite a couple of periods going down to six men.
Pool B (England, Kenya, USA, France)
England’s victories over Kenya, USA and France saw them top Pool B.
Simon Amor’s side, clearly energised after their bronze medal finish at the Commonwealth Games, started as they meant to go on, securing a 14-5 lead after seven minutes against Kenya in their opening game.
Alex Davis and Ollie Lindsay-Hague crossed the whitewash, Kenya responded with two converted tries from Willy Ambaka and Nelson Oyoo, but it was too little too late England claimed the 28-19 win.
The USA also pushed England but Amor’s men held onto their early lead to secure a 19-14 victory. In their final game of the day England dominated from the outset leaving France scoreless with a 39-0 win.
The second Cup quarter-final spot from Pool B was dueled between Kenya and the USA. A brace from Samuel Oliech plus three other tries handed Kenya a route into the last eight of the competition that they won memorably back in 2016.
Pool C (South Africa, Samoa, Canada, Argentina)
South Africa took a hold of Pool C with two victories over Samoa and Canada respectively before meeting Argentina in the last Pool C match.
After flying out of the blocks against Santiago Gómez Cora’s side, the Blitzboks were pinned back to 12-12 at the break. However, an excellent performance of Selvyn Davids saw him score and create a try, while also adding the extras to ensure a South African clean-sweep on day one.
The second Cup quarter-final position in the Pool was contested for between last year’s winners in Singapore Canada and Samoa. It was a dramatic encounter and the first seven minutes was a ‘game of two halves’ in a half.
Canada went 14-0 ahead before trailing and then eventually leading 19-17 at the break. The second seven was a tight affair with Vaa Apelu Maliko providing the decisive score after a length-of-the-field move for Samoa to seal victory.
Pool D (Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales)
A powerful first day from Australia secured their position at the top of Pool D with new head coach Tim Walsh starting his tenure on the right note.
The opening match of the tournament saw Australia pushed all the way by Scotland, 24-20, before putting out an excellent performance, in arguably one of the best games of the day, against New Zealand.
Walsh’s men went two tries up through Brandon Quinn and Lachie Anderson before Trael Joass scored a vital five-pointer. New Zealand levelled the game at 12-12 in the second-half before John Porch scored and converted his own try to secure the spoils one minute from time.
Scotland and New Zealand met in the decisive, and final, game of the pool with a Cup quarter-final spot on the line.
With two minutes to go the game was delicately balanced at 17-12 in New Zealand’s favour, and with Kurt Baker’s final score, this ensured a place in the final eight.
Day two gets underway at 11:00 local time on Sunday (GMT +8) to follow the action visit www.worldrugby.org/sevens and @worldrugby7s