The fifth tournament on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019 commenced in style as an excited crowd enjoyed a busy first day at the Sam Boyd Stadium and one that produced a few surprises along the way.
One of the joint World Series leaders going into Las Vegas - New Zealand - started as they mean to go while Fiji, England and Australia also impressed. Argentina produced the upset of the day by snatching a late two-point victory over USA in Pool B and invitational side Chile held South Africa to a 5-5 draw in Pool C.
With the tournament in Las Vegas being split over three days, all 16 teams took to the field and played two of their three pool stage matches. This stop marks the halfway point on the World Series meaning that every point is vital, not only for the title race, but also in the chase for qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The tournament started in Pool D with Australia overpowering Wales 26-0 before Fiji reminded the world of their incredible offloading ability and handling accuracy to beat Scotland 36-12. The Fijians then overpowered Wales 33-14 later on to march confidently towards the second day of action.
John Dalziel's Scotland may have lost to Fiji but Max McFarland still produced magic during their first 14 minutes in Las Vegas. The 25-year-old started with an incredible step on his own line before going the length of the field in style.
It's a try that will be remembered for a long time, he added another peach against Australia too, but it wasn't enough as they lost 24-12 despite being level at the interval. Pool D will be decided on Saturday morning when Australia and Fiji meet at 11:52am local time (GMT-8).
In Pool A, New Zealand didn't see much of the ball for the first three minutes of their opening match against Samoa, however one big turnover was all that they needed to kick-start their competition.
After it arrived, Regan Ware notched up a brace within 30 seconds while Sione Molia's 50th and 51st tries on the World Series also helped to bring about their 33-0 victory. Clark Laidlaw's outfit then followed it up by beating Canada 33-19 as the All Blacks Sevens marked the start of Tim Mikkelson's 80th World Series tournament in appropriate fashion. Mikkelson is only the fourth player to ever reach that number behind James Rodwell (90), DJ Forbes (89) and Dan Norton (81).
Over in Pool B the defending USA Sevens champions, the hosts, set their stall out from the opening minutes against Kenya as their speedster Carlin Isles hit 34km/hour on a trademark outside arch. Kenya scored two tries of their own but 11 points from Eagles captain Madison Hughes helped bring about their 26-10 result.
Much to the dismay of the home fans, Hughes and his side lost the repeat of last year's Cup final against Argentina. The duo were locked at 19-19 with less than three minutes to play before Isles scored what many thought to be the match-winner. In the process of scoring, Los Pumas Sevens had a man sent to the sin-bin but rallied and after a late try from Luciano González, Santiago Mare's conversion snatched victory out of the USA's hands.
South Africa, pitched in Pool C, had a slow start against Japan but found their feet just before half-time. The back-to-back World Series champions pressed on for a 26-0 victory but found life hard going again when they met a gutsy Chilean side in the penultimate match of the day.
Los Condores Sevens' Benjamin De Vidts locked the match up at five-apiece three minutes from time and it went down to the final moments as both teams pressed for the decisive score. Johannes Christoffel Pretorius thought that he'd crossed for the Blitzboks on the final play but instead lost control trying to slide over the line.
Elsewhere in Pool C England, who are looking to gain vital points in their bid to finish in the top four at the end of the year for Tokyo 2020 qualification on behalf of Great Britain, made light work of both Chile (22-0) and Japan (31-12) with the evergreen Dan Norton finishing his day's work with a classy hat-trick against the latter.
The final pool stage fixtures will start day two on Saturday from 11:30am (GMT-8). The Challenge Trophy quarter-finals will then commence the afternoon session and the second day of action will conclude with the all-important Cup quarter-finals from 5:46pm local time.