At the end of the first day of the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, six of the Cup quarter final spots are still up for grabs.
At the end of the first day of the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, six of the Cup quarter final spots are still up for grabs going into the third round of pool matches on day two.
Up until the 16th and final match of the tournament – which is round four of the HSBC Sevens World Series – all eight were available, but France broke the USA's hearts with a narrow 14-12 victory to book their place in the Cup quarter-finals. The hosts will now compete in the Bowl after an earlier narrow 19-12 defeat at the hands of Argentina, with Los Pumas also progressing to the Cup and ending day one with a 100% record.
Current Series leaders New Zealand and Samoa also won both of their two matches but it was defending champions South Africa that impressed the most scoring no fewer than 72 unanswered points.
Seabelo Senatla returned from injury to score four tries, while Branco du Preez and Justin Geduld both scored three tries as they beat Wales 43-0 in their first match and Canada 29-0. Mathematically the Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens champions can still miss out on the quarter-finals, but they have all but secured a place should they lose to Kenya and Canada beat Wales.
Kenya, having lost 17-15 to Canada in their first match, went on to beat Wales 21-17 with Biko Adema scoring 11 points and captain Collins Injera, who was in inspired form, scoring the winning try for Paul Treu's side.
In Pool B it had looked as though the Gold Coast champions New Zealand and Dubai champions Fiji were set to qualify but Cameron Clark, returning to the Australian side from injury, stepped up to kick a winning drop goal penalty with the last play of the match to beat Fiji 22-21 and throw the pool wide open.
Forwards Sam Dickson and Scott Curry both scored in New Zealand's 31-7 win against Australia, before Tim Mikkelson added a brace and a conversion in their 26-5 defeat of Scotland as the current Series leaders look to build on their two point lead at the top of the standings in Las Vegas.
England lost to Samoa 22-19 in their first match, but 16 points from captain Tom Mitchell ensured they impressively won their second match 54-0 against Portugal in Pool C and they sit on four points alongside Portugal, while Viliamu Punivalu's side have six.
The hosts, USA, were unfortunate to lose to Argentina 19-12 in their opening match, despite an impressive try from Carlin Isles, and 14-12 against France in the final match of the day with Les Bleus earlier beating Spain 47-0 thanks to 18 points from Stephen Paraz to progress from Pool D.
Spain, Wales, Scotland and Uruguay will join the USA in the Bowl. Uruguay, competing in their first World Series event of the Series as the only non core side, and having just booked their place at the core team qualifier in Hong Kong in March almost upset the apple cart even further in Las Vegas, leading Samoa, winner of this tournament in 2010 and 2012, 12-5 at half time before losing 17-12.
Day Two, fixtures:
Wales v Canada
Australia v Scotland
England v Uruguay
Argentina v France
Samoa v Portugal
New Zealand v Fiji
South Africa v Kenya
United States v Spain
South Africa 43 – 0 Wales
Kenya 15 – 17 Canada
South Africa 29 – 0 Canada
Kenya 21 – 17 Wales
New Zealand 31 – 7 Australia
Fiji 24 – 0 Scotland
New Zealand 26 – 5 Scotland
Fiji 21 – 22 Australia
Samoa 22 – 19 England
Portugal 19 – 5 Uruguay
Samoa 17 – 12 Uruguay
Portugal 0 – 54 England
Argentina 19 – 12 United States
France 47 – 0 Spain
Argentina 33 – 5 Spain
France 14 – 12 United States
Neil Powell, SA coach: “We are very pleased, especially in our defensive half. A good day one and hopefully we can take it into day two. Our defensive structures are in place and that helps us. The fact we have that is great and allows us to play the way we want on the field.”
Paul Treu, Kenya coach: “We didn't start too well against Canada with the defeat there. We have a life line now, though we know it will be hard against an impressive South Africa. I know the best defence stands a good chance of winning here in Las Vegas, and so far they've not conceded a point.”
Nicolas Bruzzone, Argentina captain: “We have been building momentum, and we now need to take this into tomorrow. We have a lot of new players here, and under our new coach we are just trying to get better. We have won Cups here in USA before, but we have a long way to go and we have to play like this and build and then we'll see.”
Matt Hawkins, USA coach: “It is Incredibly frustrating, the guys put so much into that. But they have to learn from things like this, and they need to come back tomorrow and pick themselves up. We are doing the right things, but we just need to get the results in our favour. The USA fans are the most patriotic fans out there and their support is amazing, we want the results as much as they do.”
Keith Quinn, TV commentator: “I've been very impressed with day one here in Las Vegas. The defending champions South Africa look like the team to beat having not conceded a point, but anything can happen with all eight quarter final positions still on offer! It was nice to see Carlin Isles sprinting down the touchline in front of us in their opening match, and the hosts.”
England captain, Tom Mitchell: “I think we have a point to prove in this tournament in general. Disappointing to lose to Samoa the way we did, but good to come out and a win like that. I've enjoyed being captain more so than i thought, this week has been good, the boys have handled the distractions in Vegas well and made my job easy.”
DJ Forbes, New Zealand captain: “It is a different set up in Vegas, so good to get two wins on day one. Australia are always tough down the years and Scotland are no different. But nothing is sure and we now have Fiji tomorrow and then a potential quarter final so it doesn't get any easier than that.”
With thanks to the IRB