Buenos Aires head into Sunday's knockout stages as the team to beat in the World Club 7s after a strong showing at Twickenham.
Buenos Aires will head into Sunday's knockout stages as the team to beat in the World Club 7s after making a huge impression at Twickenham.
Sunday's action starts at 11.30am with NSW Waratahs taking on Harlequins and Seattle facing Gloucester, but it was Buenos Aires who made the biggest impression with three bonus-point wins to emerge as number one seeds, under the coaching of Diego Albanese and Manuel Contepomi.
The Argentinians are back to improve on last year's effort – finishing third place overall – and on this showing the final could well lie in wait as they head into the knockouts as top seed.
They toppled Blue Bulls, Cardiff Blues and Premiership Rugby 7s champions Gloucester to make a clean sweep of Pool B, with Francisco Merello at the front of their attacking play.
Auckland also made a statement, going unbeaten to clinch Pool C – including a defeat of Australian rivals NSW Waratahs – while South African side Western Province thrilled to emerge top dogs from Pool A.
Aviva Premiership sides Harlequins and Gloucester did not so fare well after failing to record a win, but will be looking to respond at Rugby HQ with success in the Shield Final – book your tickets for Sunday here.
New York scored the first try of the weekend through Garrett Bender, who kicked on over the whitewash after a neat step inside, but RC Enisei responded through Dmitriy Simonov.
It was the Russians who would prevail 26-17 in a to-and-fro match as tries from Denis Simplikevich, Igor Kurashov and Anton Rudoy settled the clash.
Next up Harlequins' Jordan Burns (2) blazed away either side of a Josh Bassingthwaighte try, but Ashwell Peters made things with a score for Western Province interesting just before half time.
Armien Bailey's chip-and-chase hauled the South Africans into the lead before Iewan Bartels, Anthony Taylor and Earl Johnson all heaped a 33-12 defeat on Quins, who grabbed a consolation try through Maika Burenivalu.
Simplikevich wasted little time in helping RC Enisei rack up a big score on Quins in the next game, grabbing two before Ramil Gaysin and Rudoy joined in.
The Russia international completed his hattrick after the break to complete a 33-12 victory, as Howard Graham's troops cut down the gap through Sam Stuart and Sam Aspland-Robinson.
In one of the best games of the first day, New York snuck a last-gasp draw 26-26 over Western Province, Derek Lipscomb coming up with the goods as the clock ticked down to zero.
Marcus Henderson starred for New York early on with two tries but it took Lipscomb to salvage the points after a second-half siege from Western Province.
The pool's best two sides so far, RC Enisei and Western Province, then battled it out – and the South Africans made sure they headed into the knockouts unbeaten with a 35-24 triumph.
Frederick Muller (2) made the biggest impression for Western Province but it wouldn't be a World Club 7s match without a Simplikevich try, the full-back taking his tally to five.
And in the final pool A game New York set themselves continued their fight back with a 24-7 win over Harlequins, as Carlin Isles came alive to clinch a hat-trick.
Alosio Yamoyamo restored some pride for Quins, who still have a chance of lifting silverware in the Shield Final on Sunday.
POOL A RESULTS
RC Enisei 26 New York 17
Harlequins 19 Western Province 38
RC Enisei 33 Harlequins 12
Western Province 26 New York 26
RC Enisei 24 Western Province 35
New York 24 Harlequins 7
In a tightly-contested first half, Blue Bulls opened the scoring through Niel Meyer while Premiership Rugby 7s champions Gloucester Rugby got their weekend going courtesy of Ben Frankland.
Nardus van der Walt weaved through to wrench back the lead and Leroy Bitterhout, after a wonderful dummy from Enver Brandt, sparked a flurry of tries in a 36-14 victory.
Buenos Aires, who finished third last year, got off to the perfect start against Cardiff Blues through Franco Sabato and Merello , with Lloyd Williams touching down in response.
Owen Jenkins then wrestled free to wrench the Blues back in it but Segundo Taculet, Rodrigo Etchart and Merello again saw the Argentinians steam ahead to a 33-14 win.
But the Blues kick-started their tournament with an impressive 41-5 thumping of Gloucester – who had beaten the Welsh side on the way to the defence of their Premiership Rugby 7s title last week.
Luke Morgan and Garyn Smith helped themselves to two tries apiece while Joshua Madigibuli made sure the Cherry & Whites weren't absent from the scoresheet.
Buenos Aires then kept up their fine form against the Blue Bulls, soaring to a 26-7 triumph as Taculet (2) ran riot.
Etchart and captain Merello also popped up for the second time in two games, while the Blue Bulls saved some face through Brandt.
And Gloucester were not spared from the clutches of Buenos Aires either, who confirmed their No.1 seeding for the knockouts with a 33-10 victory.
The Argentinians opened up an advantage almost immediately and the tries were shared out further afield, with Ignacio Brex (2) catching the eye.
Runners-up in Pool B were Blue Bulls but only after edging Cardiff in a frenetic clash by 24-21, with the lead changing back and forth in the final few minutes.
The Blues recovered from an early setback through Luke Morgan (2) and then Lloyd Williams – but Ganfried May promptly went down the other end to wrap up victory for the Bulls.
POOL B RESULTS
Gloucester Rugby 14 Vodacom Blue Bulls 36
Buenos Aires 33 Cardiff Blues 14
Gloucester Rugby 5 Cardiff Blues 41
Blue Bulls 7 Buenos Aires 26
Gloucester Rugby 10 Buenos Aires 33
Blue Bulls 24 Cardiff Blues 21
Roman Roshchin got Kuban Krasnodar off the mark followed by Yury Gostyuzhev against 2013 finalists Auckland but Tala Gray worked some magic to put Mike Faleafa through and hit back.
And despite captain Vladimir Ostroushko chipping in with another for Kuban, the New Zealanders snuck the contest 21-15 as Kali Hala and Melani Nanai blitzed their way to the whitewash
Seattle then put the hammer down against tournaments newcomers NSW Waratahs thanks to Tim Stanfill and Michael Palefau, building a sizable lead before half time
The Waratahs got on the scoreboard after a wonderfully-worked try from Gray and then Dave Horwitz, but Mike Nelson, Miles Craigwell and Kevin Swiryn extended Seattle's advantage to 33-14 by the final whistle.
The Australians' day did not get any better up against Kuban, who battled to a 28-19 win with Ostrushko leading the way once more.
In contrast their Southern Hemisphere rivals overcame Seattle 19-12 for their second victory of the day, as Tutu Tairea's try proved the difference in the second half.
Daniel Barrett and Swiryn efforts made sure Auckland did not have it their own way after James Raea and Nanai had found the gaps.
And in the