Sonny Bill magic keeps All Blacks Sevens unbeaten on day one in Wellington
Code-hopping star fulfills expectations for New Zealand as Fiji and Australia also go undefeated
All Blacks hero Sonny Bill Williams did not disappoint as the star attraction at the Wellington Sevens on Saturday as New Zealand and Fiji dominated the first day's play.
Both sides emerged unscathed from their pool games on day one of the third leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
New Zealand, however, were on the brink of losing to South Africa when double 15-a-side World Cup player Williams set up the match-winning try with a trade-mark offload.
“Hopefully, I can grow into the tournament and just keep learning,” said Williams on his sevens debut. “It was a sneaky scab try, I was just backing up, but like I said I just want to learn. I am grateful to be playing amongst such talented players.
WATCH: Sonny Bill Williams scores his debut sevens try for New Zealand
“It is always good to play at home, and in the All Blacks jersey, in Wellington, from a NZ perspective I’m not sure it gets much bigger than this.”
Australia were the only other team to win all their pool games, although they struggled at times, while England topped their pool despite losing to Samoa.
South Africa, Argentina, Kenya and USA also qualified for the quarter-finals on Sunday.
Fiji, co-leaders with South Africa after the first two rounds of the 10-leg series, looked serious contenders in Wellington as they waltzed through pool B.
Their closest match was a 31-10 win over their pool runners-up Argentina.
South Africa, however, fell 19-14 in a tense match-of-the-day against New Zealand.
New Zealand led 12-7 going into the final minute when Williams attempted an offload when surrounded by South Africans.
The ball was snatched away, which saw Cheslin Kolbe score to put South Africa up 14-12.
There was just enough time left for the restart in which New Zealand recovered the ball and this time a flawless Williams offload put Joe Webber away for the match-winning try.
Australia had their anxious moment against Portugal in pool D when they were down 12-0 at half-time before fighting back in the second half with three unanswered tries to win 19-12.
England finished as the fourth top qualifier, winning pool C on points differential after losing their final match against 2009-10 world champions Samoa to finish the day with two wins and a loss, the same as USA.
The USA, who were also troubled by Samoa with Carlin Isles producing the winning try after the final hooter, lost their only game to England 19-5.
In the quarter-finals New Zealand play Kenya, England are against Argentina, Australia face South Africa and Fiji play the USA.