BlitzBokke lay down home marker
Host South Africa laid down a big marker on Day One of the Port Elizabeth leg of the IRB Sevens World Series.
Round Three of the World Series saw the BlitzBokke demolish Samoa 29-7, then accounted for a resilient France (12-5) and finally beat Australia 17-7 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in PE.
That saw the Boks advance to the Cup play-offs as the only unbeaten team in Pool A and booked themselves a quarterfinal encounter with the United States.
The bog blow-out of day one was that Samoa, winners in Dubai last week, got knocked out of the Cup competition – despite beating France in the final match of the day.
Samoa, after that 22-point (7-29) hammering at the hands of the BlitzBokke, also lost to Australia (7-26) and that huge point differential saw France go through to the Cup competition and Samoa drop down to the Bowl section.
Hosts South Africa and Portugal were the only teams to remain unbeaten on Day One.
For Portugal that reward is a Cup quarterfinal encounter with France.
In the other two Cup quarterfinals Wales will meet Series leaders New Zealand, whilst Fiji await Argentina.
England missed out on the Cup for a third successive tournament.
South Africa v United States
Wales v New Zealand
Portugal v France
Fiji v Argentina
Australia v Zimbabwe
Kenya v Scotland
Canada v Samoa
England v Spain
New BlitzBok captain Frankie Horne said it was a "mindset change" that got them the impressive win over their Pacific Island rivals, Samoa, to set the stage for the opening day.
"We lost to Samoa last week by three points, and they went on to win the tournament," Horne said, adding: "So [it was] just a mindset change, and working on all our niggles this week and it worked for us today [Saturday].
"The crowd is amazing but you can't get to hyped up by the crowd but we are sapping energy from then and it works for some of the guys.
"He [Cecil Afrika] is just phenomenal. He reads the game like he was born on the Sevens pitch. He has a presence on the field to other teams."
He also spoke at length about the value of the return of the team's "awesome" playmaker Cecil Afrika, who played with a heavily-strapped knee, but still looked a class act.
We bring you all the Day One drama!
(Samoa, France, South Africa, Australia)
The hosts won all three of their matches, after they finished the opening day ended an impressive 17-7 victory against Australia.
Cornal Hendricks and Paul Delport earlier helped Paul Treu's side beat France 12-5. Their first match was a repeat of last year's Cup semifinal, and they were able to record a 29-7 victory against last week's champions Samoa thanks to a hat-trick from Chris Dry.
France also opened up with a victory, beating Australia 31-5 thanks to 14 points from Terry Bouhraoua and ended the day with a 12-7 defeat to Samoa but reached the quarter finals on points difference.
Having won the Cup last weekend in Dubai, Samoa were unable to reproduce that form as they suffered a second successive defeat, losing 26-7 against Australia.
France 31-5 Australia
Samoa 7-29 South Africa
Samoa 7-26 Australia
France 5-12 South Africa
South Africa 17-7 Australia
Samoa 12-7 France
(New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, England)
Fiji booked their place in the Cup quarterfinals with a 24-12 victory against New Zealand.
The Gold Coast Sevens champions knew a victory would confirm their place in the last eight having earlier suffered a shock 19-21 defeat to Scotland.
In an enthralling match Andrew Turnbull scored twice, as did Fiji's Joji Raqamate, but it was captain Colin Gregor's try and conversion that made the difference.
New Zealand join Fiji in the Cup competition on day two with two wins, coming from 0-7 behind to beat Scotland 14-7 before a 24-7 defeat of England.
Fiji also beat England 29-19 thanks to two tries from captain Setefano Cakau, but Ben Ryan's side ensured they ended day one with a victory – beating the auld enemy Scotland 33-12, a match which saw Dan Norton notch up his 100th career try.
Fiji 29-19 England
New Zealand 14-7 Scotland
Fiji 19-21 Scotland
New Zealand 24-7 England
Scotland 12-33 England
New Zealand 12-24 Fiji
(Kenya, Wales, Argentina, Spain)
Argentina and Wales reached the Cup quarterfinals from Pool C in yet another enthralling contest.
Wales headed into their final match with Kenya knowing a win was required, and Paul John's side ensured their place in the last eight with a 33-12 victory over Mike Friday's side.
Wales beat Spain 12-5 in their first pool match, Rhys Jones and Will Thomas scoring for the current Sevens world champions. However they were pinned back in their second clash of the day when Argentina came from behind to beat them 12-7 in a tense clash. Argentina won their second match of the day, beating Spain 21-14.
Kenya had made it two wins from two on the opening day, beating Spain 26-14 in their second match thanks to 11 points from Lavin Asego and were unlucky to miss out on points differential.
Earlier, Mike Friday's side stormed into a 21-0 lead at half-time against Argentina thanks to tries from Andrew Amonde, Willy Ambaka and Davis Chenge. Los Pumas scored three second-half tries, but two missed conversions meant they lost 21-17.
Wales 12-5 Spain
Kenya 21-17 Argentina
Wales 7-12 Argentina
Kenya 26-14 Spain
Argentina 21-14 Spain
Kenya 14-33 Wales
(Portugal, Canada, United Stated, Zimbabwe)
Portugal entered the Cup stage of the tournament after winning all three of their games on the opening day in Port Elizabeth.
The Europeans got their campaign in Port Elizabeth off to a solid start beating USA 26-12, equalling the most points scored by them against the North Americans in a World Series match, before narrowly beating Zimbabwe 17-12. They ended the day with a resounding 28-7 win over Canada, confirming their place in the Cup.
Canada also beat Zimbabwe, 11 points coming from Nathan Hirayama to give them a 26-0 victory, but lost to rivals USA 26-12 in their second match. Luke Hume crossed twice to give the USA their first victory against Canada since the 2011 Dubai Sevens – with Phil Mack having been shown a red card in the first half.
The USA won their second match against Zimbabwe 21-17 and thanks to Portugal's result will join the Portuguese in the Cup, with Canada and Zimbabwe battling in the Bowl on Sunday.
Canada 26-0 Zimbabwe
Portugal 26-12 United States
Portugal 17-12 Zimbabwe
Canada 12-26 United States
United States 21-17 Zimbabwe
Portugal 28-7 Canada