Three sudden-death, golden point matches, two in a nail-biting Pool C, made for a thrilling start to the men’s competition as Perth hosted SVNS for the first time in bright sunshine.
While there was heartbreak for Australia in the first of those shoot-outs, Oceania rivals New Zealand and Fiji came through to register precious victories later in the day.
Current HSBC SVNS 2024 leaders Argentina and South Africa are set for a seismic clash on day two having won both their opening matches, while USA and Fiji put their slow starts to the competition behind them to go two from two.
Pool A: Blitzboks and Los Pumas dominate on day one
HSBC SVNS 2024 leaders, South Africa and Argentina, will play off for top spot in Pool A on Saturday (kick-off 12:38 GMT) after two wins apiece on the opening day.
Los Pumas Sevens’ needed their robust defence to be at its absolute best as they came under early pressure against Spain. But that hard work off the ball was rewarded and Los Pumas Sevens never looked back once Marcos Moneta opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
Matías Osadczuk, German Schulz and Rodrigo Isgro, in his first game back since Rugby World Cup 2023, added further scores in a 28-5 win.
Reigning World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year, Isgro, made another positive impact in Argentina’s next match, a 29-5 win against Canada, with a try and an assist, and he’s pleased to be back on the SVNS stage.
“I am really happy to be here, to be with the group, this incredible team," he said in a joyous post-match interview.
“My dream came true to play for Los Pumas, and at a World Cup, and it is a dream to be here and play for Los Pumas Sevens. Playing rugby is what I love.
“Last year has already happened and now my focus is on 2024.”
The win over Canada also featured a late try for Gaston Revol, leaving the veteran centurion just five points short of the 1,000-point milestone in SVNS history.
Tristan Leyds scored on debut as the Blitzboks breezed past Canada 24-7 in their opening match before they saw off Spain, 21-14, Selvyn Davids adding his brace against Los Leones Sevens with his side’s third try.
Pool B: Experience counts for a lot for USA
Malacchi Esdale broke Australia’s hearts with a sudden-death, golden point score as USA kicked off their campaign with a 19-14 win.
Perry Baker had bagged a pair of tries in normal time, while Maurice Longbottom and Dietrich Roache got on the scoresheet for the hosts.
Australia bounced back to beat Great Britain 26-14 in the final match of the day, but it is the Men’s Sevens Eagles who sit on top of Pool B after they signed off with a 26-7 win against Ireland.
“Bit disappointed by this morning so it was nice to come out and put on a performance to be proud of,” said Nathan Lawson post-match.
Captain Kevon Williams scored on his return to the team and there were further tries for Baker and Esdale in addition to one for Naima Fuala'au as USA beat Ireland 26-7 in their next encounter.
All in all, i was a much improved performance from Mike Friday’s team who went to Perth having won just three of their 10 matches across the first two tournaments.
Ireland’s hard-fought 17-12 win over Great Britain in their first match means they are still very in contention heading into day two.
Pool C: New Zealand and Fiji pass sudden death tests
New Zealand kept their hopes of defending their Australian title alive with a stunning golden point win over Samoa.
The All Blacks Sevens needed to win to stay in the hunt for first prize after a surprise 33-17 loss to France in their opening game.
New Zealand were second-best in terms of possession and territory in the first half of normal time but managed to score with their first incursion into the Samoan half when Leroy Carter finished off a brilliant handling move.
Carter put New Zealand’s all-time SVNS record appearance holder Tim Mikkelson in for his second of the day and it looked as though the winning line was in sight despite a high penalty count going against them.
However, Samoa finally found a clinical edge with Paul Scanlan’s probing runs in attack leading to tries from Uaina Tui Sione and Malakesi Masefau.
With the sides locked together at 12-12, the match went into sudden death, extra-time and it took all five minutes of the first half for New Zealand to get the win, Regan Ware marking his 50th tournament appearance by running in the crucial score from halfway.
Having ended a 10-game losing streak against the All Black Sevens, thanks to a first-half hat-trick from Theo Forner, France set out to prove that it wasn’t a flash in the pan result against a Fiji side who had beaten Samoa 14-7 in their first game.
Fiji, the most successful SVNS team in Australia with six titles, trailed at half-time and it needed a try from Kaminieli Rasaku to take the match into golden point territory.
The Olympic champions never know when they are beaten and 20 seconds into the extra-time period, Terio Tamani struck the winning blow.
Play resumes in the men's competition on Saturday (GMT 04:16) when Canada take on Spain.
All the matches are being streamed live, for free, on RugbyPass TV.