LA Sevens: BlitzBoks fail miserably
DAY ONE WRAP: The destination of the World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 title remains in the balance after leaders South Africa failed to make it through to the Cup quarter-finals after a pulsating day one in Los Angeles.
Heading into the last of nine tournaments stretching back to last November, South Africa had 124 points, Australia 122, Argentina 118 and Fiji 104 to leave them all in the hunt for the overall prize.
Australia, Argentina and Fiji all remain in with a chance to be crowned Series champions come Sunday.
On day one, in a Pool B stacked full of quality, South Africa could only finish third on Saturday behind New Zealand and the hosts USA who were impressive on home turf.
Australia, Argentina and Fiji all safely navigated through their pools into the Cup last eight.
There is a lot of water to go under the bridge on Sunday, but the door is well and truly open for Australia and Argentina who will be on red alert.
In the Cup last eight on day two, Australia will play Kenya, Fiji will take on the USA, Samoa will face Argentina and New Zealand and Ireland will clash.
South Africa will play Wales first up on day two in a ninth place quarter-final.
Australia and Argentina progressed
Overall title contenders Australia and Argentina won their first Pool A games with ease.
Matías Osadczuk, Luciano Gonzalez (2), Joaquin de la Vega, Rodrigo Isgro, Mateo Graziano and Franco Rossetto were the try scorers as Argentina thumped a young Spanish squad 52-7.
Australia then ran in nine tries to get the better of Japan 61-0.
Josh Turner and Matthew Gonzalez led the way with respective try doubles.
Japan then got a win that would help them to finish third in the pool.
They saw off Spain 33-0 and Taichi Yoshizawa (2), Timo Fiti Sufia, Moeki Fukushi and Taiga Ishida crossed the try line with Taiga Ishida converting three of them.
Then came the big game, Australia versus Argentina.
Converted tries from German Schulz and Matías Osadczuk had Argentina 14-5 up at half-time, but the Australians came back fighting.
Dietrich Roache and Maurice Longbottom scored tries – with two conversions from the former – came in the second period as they won 19-14. Henry Hutchison had scored their first half try.
Argentina made sure of second spot in the pool with a 34-12 victory over Japan last up.
Rodrigo Isgro, Matías Osadczuk, Tobias Wade, Franco Rossetto, Mateo Graziano and Alejo Lavayen were their try scorers.
Australia’s brilliant day ended with a 54-0 win over Spain. Corey Toole, Dietrich Roache and Nathan Lawson bagged try doubles in that one.
New Zealand and USA through to quarters
The tone for day one was set in the very first tie when the USA turned on the style to get the better of South Africa in Pool B.
David Still, Joe Schroeder and Perry Baker all scored tries converted by Lucas Lacamp as they came out on top 21-7, Sakoyisa Makata with the South African try.
Moses Leo, Che Clarke, Caleb Tangitau and Akuila Rokolisoa then all went over as New Zealand began with a 26-5 victory over Canada.
South Africa then led 17-5 over Canada at the interval, but had to withstand a fightback before coming through 22-17.
Muller du Plessis, Siviwe Soyizwapi (2) and JC Pretorius scored the South African tries, but efforts from Josiah Morra, Brock Webster and Anton Ngongo made it close.
The crowd were very excited ahead of the New Zealand-USA tie, but the former put in a very professional performance.
Tone Ng Shiu, Lewis Ormond, Akuila Rokolisoa, Caleb Tangitau and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black bagged their tries in a 33-12 triumph.
The USA dusted themselves off after that one and made sure to make it two wins out of three by edging out a dogged Canada 26-17.
David Still, Joe Schroeder, Maceo Brown and Malacchi Esdale scored USA’s tries with Cody Melphy (2) and Steve Tomasin adding conversions.
Tries from Akuila Rokolisoa, Che Clarke and Lewis Ormond – plus one conversion by the first mentioned – helped then lead New Zealand to a 17-14 victory over South Africa.
All of which left New Zealand and USA progressing through to play for the Cup and South Africa to battle it out for fifth spot.
Three from Three for Fiji
In a very tight first game Ireland, who were fifth overall heading into this tournament, saw off France 14-12.
Terry Kennedy scored a converted try in the first half and Chay Mullins a seven pointer late on in the second half. Before Mullins’ try France led 12-7, but they could not hold on.
Fiji have medalled in their last four tournaments and started well against Wales.
Viwa Naduvalo (2), Joseva Talacolo and Waisea Nacuqu scored their tries as they defeated the Welsh 28-12.
Terry Kennedy, Andrew Smith (2), Mark Roche, Niall Comerford, Aaron O’Sullivan (2) and Chay Mullins scored tries as Ireland let loose next up and defeated Wales 46-12.
Fiji led 19-12 after an amazing first half against France before further tries from Waisea Nacuqu and Joseva Talacolo got the former home 29-19.
Wales then played slightly better against France in their final pool match, but tries from Jonathan Laugel, Pierre Mignot, Nelson Epee and Tavite Veredamu saw France come out on top 26-12.
In the pool decider, converted tries from Waisea Nacuqu and Kaminieli Rasaku had Fiji 14-0 up at half-time against Ireland.
Harry McNulty’s seven pointer gave Ireland hope, but a converted effort from Iowane Teba with two minutes to go gave them a 21-14 triumph as they topped the pool.
Samoa and Kenya head to the next round
Scotland-England clashes in all sports are always tasty and the Pool D opener was no different here.
Jordan Edmunds scored two tries and Callum Young one while Kaleem Barreto kicked two conversions as the former came out on top 19-5.
After decent showings in Toulouse and London, Samoa had their eyes on the Cup last eight and they started their Los Angeles campaign well.
They got the better of Kenya 33-14 with their tries coming from Vaa Apelu Maliko (2), Uaina Sione, Paul Scanlan and Taunuu Niulevaea.
Kenya bounced back from that loss next up by seeing off England 19-14.
The tries for Kenya came from Willy Ambaka (2) and Billy Odhiambo with Samuel Oliech kicking two conversions.
Samoa backed up their first win with another over Scotland.
Vaa Apelu Maliko (2) Steve Onosai and Motu Opetai bagged their tries in a 22-7 victory.
Kenya took heart from the win over England and tries from Nelson Oyoo, Alvin Otieno, Vincent Onyala and Billy Odhiambo got them past Scotland 20-10 and into the Cup quarter-finals.
They were second in the pool behind unbeaten Samoa who rounded day one off with a 31-5 win over England.
Uaina Sione (2), Vaovasa Afa Sua, Owen Niue and Motu Opetai scored Samoa’s five tries here.
Saturday, August 27
South Africa 7-21 USA
New Zealand 26-5 Canada
England 5-19 Scotland
Samoa 33-14 Kenya
Ireland 14-12 France
Fiji 28-12 Wales
Spain 7-52 Argentina
Australia 61-0 Japan
South Africa 22-17 Canada
New Zealand 33-12 USA
England 14-19 Kenya
Samoa 22-7 Scotland
Ireland 46-12 Wales
Fiji 29-19 France
Spain 0-33 Japan
Sunday, August 28
Australia 19-14 Argentina
USA 26-17 Canada
New Zealand 17-14 South Africa
Scotland 10-20 Kenya
Samoa 31-5 England
France 26-12 Wales
Fiji 21-7 Ireland
Argentina 34-12 Japan
Australia 54-0 Spain