Reigning USA Sevens champions Fiji kept their hopes of a third consecutive tournament win in Las Vegas alive after notching up two pool wins on Day One.
Gareth Baber’s side, who are back-to-back series champions, have not won a tournament yet in the 2016-17 series but remain on course to clinch their first following a 41-0 win over Japan and 24-12 victory over Scotland in Pool D.
The Pacific Islanders were not alone however in keeping a perfect record at the Sam Boyd Stadium, as hosts USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England all recorded two wins from two.
Current series leaders South Africa entered the tournament fresh from two tournament wins in Wellington and Sydney, and continued their charge towards a fourth tournament win of the series with a 26-7 win over Canada and 24-0 win over France.
The French had started the day strongly with a 33-7 win over Wales, who were later beaten by Damian McGrath’s Canada side when Mike Fuailefau scored a late try to the delight of the large pockets of Canadian fans in the stands.
It was also a day of milestones for two players in Pool A as Branco du Preez made his 50th tournament appearance while John Moonlight became the most experienced Canadian sevens player of all time when he ran out for his 53rd tournament.
Hosts USA are chasing their first ever win on home soil and were buoyed by the vociferous fans in Las Vegas. A hat-trick of tries from powerful forward Danny Barrett helped them to a 26-5 win over Samoa. That same momentum carried them into their second match of the day against Chile, where a double from Martin Iosefo helped USA to a 31-0 scoreline at full time.
Simon Amor’s England side, who won the HSBC Cape Town Sevens back in December, were unchanged coming into the tournament and showed the benefit of consistency with a 31-5 win over Chile and a tight 12-7 win over Gordon Tietjens’ Samoa oufit.
New Zealand, despite losing captain Scott Curry just two days before the tournament start, held off a physical Kenya outfit in their first pool match thanks to tries from Tim Mikkelson, Sione Molia, Dylan Collier and Sherwin Stowers. In 15 meetings, Russia had never beaten New Zealand and that quickly became 16 after tries from Beaudein Waaka, DJ Forbes and Isaac Te Tamaki gave Scott Waldrom’s side a 19-5 win.
Argentina had started their campaign earlier in the day with a far more convincing 43-0 win over Russia and finished the day at deadlock with Kenya, 14-14.
Outside of Fiji’s two wins over Japan and Scotland, Pool D was dominated by Australia who showed the same class that got them into the Cup semi-final at the Sydney Sevens last month.
An epic comeback from 21-7 down against Scotland to win 28-21 was indicative of the resilient attitude head coach Andy Friend has tried to instill in his side throughout 2016-17. A 19-12 win against Japan gave them their perfect start to the tournament.
Day One Results
(Kick-off is local time – GMT -8)
Fiji 41-0 Japan
Australia 28-21 Scotland
Argentina 43-0 Russia
New Zealand 24-7 Kenya
USA 26-5 Samoa
England 31-5 Chile
Wales 7-33 France
South Africa 26-7 Canada
Fiji 24-12 Scotland
Australia 19-12 Japan
Argentina 14-14 Kenya
New Zealand 19-5 Russia
USA 31-0 Chile
England 12-7 Samoa
Wales 21-24 Canada
South Africa 31-0 France