Ben Gollings: “It’s a pretty incredible start”
The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series all-time points scorer kicked off his Fiji coaching career with the Singapore title and now wants his team to back it up in Vancouver.
Day one of round six on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series men’s circuit in Vancouver, Canada, threw up some great rugby on Saturday.
In the end, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina won their pools to progress to the Cup quarter-finals at BC Place along with runners-up England, Samoa, Australia and France.
The home side Canada lost their opening two matches, but rallied to defeat Spain 26-21 and finish third in Pool C to give the crowd something to cheer about.
Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa finished the day with perfect win records.
Pool A: Fiji show they mean business again
Eventual champions Fiji were sublime in Singapore last weekend - and they were once again flying on day one here.
In their first Pool A game they raced into a 17-0 lead over England at half-time and went on to win 27-12.
In that one the victors tries came from Vuiviawa Naduvalo, Waisea Nacuqu (2), Pilipo Bukayaro and Kaminieli Rasaku.
They then cranked things up a notch to see off Kenya 38-5, Waisea Nacuqu, Vuiviawa Naduvalo, Josua Vakurunabili, Elia Canakaivata, Kaminieli Rasaku and Jeremaia Matana the try scorers here.
Their most impressive performance came against the USA when tries from Kaminieli Rasaku, Vuiviawa Naduvalo, Waisea Nacuqu, Elia Canakaivata and Jeremaia Matana helped them come out on top 33-12.
Fiji topped the pool to reach the Cup quarter-finals with ease while there was a real scrap for second place.
In the end it was England who took it despite losing 20-19 to the USA in their second game, Malacchi Esdale, Kevon Williams, Ben Broselle and Lucas Lacamp the American scorers in that one.
England did beat Kenya 19-12 to end up ahead of the USA on points difference with Dan Norton, Jamie Barden and Jamie Adamson crossing in that one with Freddie Roddick kicking two conversions.
Earlier on tries from Kevin Wekesa (2) and Bush Mwale - along with two Anthony Omondi conversions - had seen Kenya beat the USA 19-17.
Pool B: New Zealand pick up where they left off
Although ultimately disappointed to lose the Cup final to Fiji in Singapore, that tournament was still a strong return to the circuit for New Zealand after a Covid-enforced lay-off.
And they clearly took a lot of positives from those two days into day one here because they won three out of three in Pool B to make the Cup quarter-finals.
Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, Brady Rush, Kitiona Vai, Moses Leo, Sam Dickson and Akuila Rokolisoa tries gave them a convincing 40-14 win over Japan first up.
They were just as in control of their second outing against Wales, coming through that one 38-5 with tries this time coming from Akuila Rokolisoa, Caleb Tangitau, Kitiona Vai, Leroy Carter, Kurt Baker and Tone Ng Shiu.
Their toughest test on the day came from Samoa.
New Zealand were leading 17-7 at half-time before getting home 31-24 in the end, Caleb Tangitau and Regan Ware both scoring try doubles.
The same two sides had played out a tight Cup last eight tie in Singapore and Samoa made sure of another Cup quarter-final spot by claiming second in the pool.
Steve Rimoni, Vaa Apelu Maliko (2) and Paul Scanlan bagged their tries in a 26-12 win over Wales with a very early score from Paul Scanlan setting them on their way to a 35-10 victory over Japan.
Tries from Tom Brown, Morgan Sieniawski and Callum Williams saw Wales beat Japan 19-14 and claim third in the pool.
Pool C: South Africa edge out Australia to top pool
The last tie of the whole of day one was a cracker between Australia and South Africa and decided who would top Pool C.
In the end it was South Africa at the summit after a 22-19 win with both teams progressing to the Cup quarter-finals.
In the tie, tries from Ben Marr and Matthew Gonzalez - both converted by Dietrich Roache - saw Australia leading 14-10 at the break, South Africa’s tries coming from an unconverted double by Ronald Brown.
Two minutes into the second half Nick Malouf’s five pointer extended Australia’s advantage, but a converted effort from South Africa’s Zain Davids made it 19-17 with just under three minutes to go.
JC Pretorius then scored the winner as the overall series leaders came out on top 22-19.
The action in this pool had started with a 31-12 routine victory for South Africa over Spain, Siviwe Soyizwapi the main man with two tries.
Corey Toole, Josh Turner, Nathan Lawson and Maurice Longbottom were the try scorers in Australia’s 26-10 win over Canada.
Tries from David Richard and Cooper Coats, both converted, kept Canada in the game against South Africa, but a late Selwyn Davids try, converted by Shaun Williams, saw the later edge that one 19-14.
Corey Toole was on hand with two of his team’s six tries as Australia dominated Spain 38-0.
Canada made sure of third in the pool after a 26-21 victory over Spain after an end-to-end contest in the penultimate tie of day one.
Pol Pla scored two of Spain’s three converted tries, but tries from David Richard, Elias Ergas, Brennig Prevost and Brock Webster - along with three conversions - saw the hosts home.
Pool D: Argentina build on fifth place in Singapore
The Argentina squad finished the Singapore event with a flourish last time out - defeated South Africa and the USA to finish fifth overall - and they took the form from those two ties into day one in Canada.
However, in the first tie of the whole weekend they did have to battle back from 12-0 down at the interval to draw with France.
Tries by Nelson Epee and William Iraguha, along with a conversion by Paulin Riva, had the French in control before Argentina grabbed a share of the spoils with scores from Marcos Moneta and Lautaro Bazan Velez and a Felipe Del Mestre conversion.
In their second match, Argentina went behind to a converted effort by Jamie Farndale for Scotland before tries by Marcos Moneta (2), German Schulz and Agustin Fraga saw them home 24-5.
That gave them confidence and, in their final pool game, German Schulz (2), Marcos Moneta and Lautaro Bazan Velez all crossed as they saw off Ireland 26-19.
That meant they finished the pool on eight points and ended up on top via points difference over France.
The French also made it through to the last eight after a Nelson Epee hat-trick led them to a 29-12 win over Ireland and then a converted second half Nisie Huyard try helped them get past Scotland 21-14.
Terry Kennedy, Andrew Smith and Billy Dardis tries helped give Ireland a 19-12 success over Scotland, but last week’s Cup semi-finalists had to make do with third in the pool with the Scots fourth.
USA, third in Pool A, and Scotland, fourth in Pool D, will kick off Sunday’s action in a ninth place quarter-final.
The first Cup quarter-final will see Fiji take on France and it should be another Sunday of twists and turns just as in Singapore seven days previous.
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream on World Rugby digital platforms including www.world.rugby, You Tube and Facebook in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.