Hong Kong Sevens

Red-hot Kiwis hit ground running

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am

It takes 79 seconds to pour the perfect pint of the black stuff that went down smoothly with most of the 29,904 crowd on the opening night. But it only took 65 seconds for the black machine to ease into top gear at the Cathay Pacific/Credit Suisse Hong Kong Sevens.

New Zealand grabbed the first of eight tries as they outclassed Taiwan 50-5 and began a campaign widely expected to end in Cup victory tomorrow. And, as expected, it was new sensation Victor Vito who got the first score, starting the procession to the try-line.

'It is just awesome. I have not played for some time due to an injury and coming out for the first time at Hong Kong is just great,' said Vito. 'I hope the crowd will see more of me in the next couple of days.'

Tomasi Cama danced his way to a couple of tries, while newly-wed forward Steven Yates showed marriage hasn't slowed him down as he also collected a brace to set the stands alight.

The victory extended New Zealand's record win streak to 37. But the magic number is 42 - which will be achieved if they win the Cup. While too much cannot be read into last night's Taiwan trouncing, the men in black look good, even though captain DJ Forbes expressed some concern over conceding a try.

'Fifty points for the first game is good by any standards. But we are a side who pride ourselves on defence and to let in a try is not acceptable. We will have to tighten up,' said Forbes.

It was a common denominator among all the three fancied teams - Fiji, South Africa and Samoa all conceding a try to their opponents.

'But it is still a good start. We don't want to play finals rugby too early. You just cannot play your best on the opening day,' said Forbes.

The Kiwis, however, did enough to impress old foe Waisale Serevi, who is coaching the Taiwanese team, preparing them for October's World Cup Sevens Asian qualifiers in Hong Kong.

'Although you can't judge entirely from the first day, from what I saw, I would say New Zealand is playing very good rugby and showed hunger,' said the legendary Serevi.

But Serevi then couldn't resist taking a small dig. He said: 'We had the ball twice and we scored once. I'm proud of that, for this is a side who are playing for the first time in the series.'

New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens declared he was satisfied.

'It was just the start we wanted. It was a chance for the guys to get a feel for the tournament. The conditions were difficult and it was hard to keep your footing, but I'm happy,' he said.

Also leaving the first night with the feeling of a job well done were South Africa, 40-7 winners over Japan, Fiji, 42-7 winners over South Korea, and Samoa, 35-7 victors over Sri Lanka.

'The first day is more about setting targets for each guy to achieve. We made a few mistakes out there but I'm happy we got the points on the board. It is important in Hong Kong to do that,' said South Africa coach Paul Treu.

Fiji conceded first blood to South Korea - Yang Young-hun scoring - but then came back strongly with their overseas-based stars, William Ryder, Lepani Nabuliwaqa and Nasoni Roko, scoring half of the team's six tries.

'They played well despite giving away that early try. I would think Fiji definitely have a chance of winning the Cup,' said Serevi.