Dubai Sevens 2018: Friday highlights as Fiji, New Zealand, Australia stay perfect on day one
- Fiji run in six tries against France before lucky escape against Scotland
- Gareth Baber’s side make it three wins from three by thrashing Kenya
Fiji kicked off the new HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a clean sweep of pool B at the Dubai Sevens on Friday.
Gareth Baber’s side thrashed France 41-0 before benefitting from a lucky escape at the death to beat Scotland 21-17. Fiji went on to rout Kenya 43-12 to make it three wins from three.
The Olympic champions will face pool C runners-up the USA in the quarter-finals, with Scotland – who edged France to second place in pool B on points difference – up against New Zealand. The All Blacks Sevens, like Fiji, stayed perfect with maximum points.
South Africa will take on England in the last eight after topping pool A on points difference, having blown a 12-0 lead to lose to Argentina in their final game.
Argentina will face Australia, who edged England 22-19 in a pool D decider that saw England lose three men to the sin-bin in a back-and-forth thriller.
Sevuloni Mocenacagi crossed in the first minute of Fiji’s opening match against France, with Vatermo Ravouvou converting, before Kalione Nasoko’s try made it 12-0 at half-time.
Two more tries from Ravouvou, as well as scores from substitute Alosio Naduva and Jerry Tuwai, the latter of which was converted by Naduva, helped Fiji get their new campaign off to a flier.
Captain Nasoko reached an impressive milestone with his 50th try – after Tuwai had left four defenders in his wake – to put Fiji 7-0 up against Scotland.
Watch: highlights from day one
But the Scots hit back through Robbie Fergusson before the break, then led soon after the restart with Max McFarland leaping to catch Gavin Lowe’s kick and crossing, with the conversion putting them 12-7 up.
The lead didn’t last long – Aminiasi Tuimaba and Naduva broke away to cross in quick succession, pouncing on loose balls from the ruck for a 21-12 lead.
There was late drama though as Sam Piqeur broke away to cross and reduce Fiji’s lead to 21-17, setting up a nervy finish. Jamie Farndale then broke through the Fiji defence and looked set to win the match for Scotland.
However, Farndale bizarrely delayed touching the ball down as he tried to cut the angle for the conversion. His right foot then came down out of bounds after he was pushed towards the edge of the pitch, with Fiji – and their famously devoted fans – breathing a sigh of relief.
3 points needed to beat Sevens kings Fiji with 20 seconds left on the clock. And this happens... pic.twitter.com/CazGIuwrlH
— Derek Alberts (@derekalberts1) November 30, 2018
Fiji then turned on the style again to dismantle Kenya. They got off to a flier with Mocenacagi crossing after 30 seconds, while Nasoko and Amenoni Nasilasila added tries before half-time.
Samuel Motari’s converted try cut the deficit for Kenya but Tuwai, Apenisa Cakaubalavu and Ravouvou crossed to further stretch Fiji’s lead. Jeffrey Okwacha Otieno scored a consolation for Kenya two minutes after the hooter.
Scotland had earlier defeated Kenya 35-14 in the other first-round match in pool B. Kenya were beaten 21-17 by France in their second match.
France and Scotland drew 14-14 in their final match on Friday, with Scotland finishing second on points difference.
Their prize is a quarter-final against New Zealand, who beat Wales 28-7, Spain 28-17 and the USA 24-7 to top pool C. The USA finished second after beating Spain 29-0 and Wales 33-12.
Spain added to Wales’ misery by thrashing them 35-7 in their final match to finish third.
In pool A, Samoa claimed a narrow 21-19 win over Argentina, and South Africa eased past Zimbabwe 31-0 in the first round of matches. Argentina then beat Zimbabwe 22-19, and South Africa made it two wins with a 19-12 win over Samoa, who later edged Zimbabwe 17-15.
Argentina shocked the Blitzboks 17-12 after a stunning second-half comeback in their final match, leaving both teams as well as Samoa tied on 7 points. But South Africa topped the pool on points difference, with Argentina ahead of Samoa in second.
Australia swept aside Japan 43-0 in their first pool D match, with Dan Norton making history for England by becoming the first sevens player to score 300 tries in a 26-12 win over Canada.
Norton was then at it again with two more tries in England’s 31-7 win against Japan, before Australia completed the second round of pool matches by beating Canada 31-19.
Canada then defeated Japan 27-7 in the penultimate match of the day with Australia edging England to maintain their 100 per cent start.