Hosts Chile, Japan and Hong Kong set the benchmark for the rest of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series after impressing on day one of the inaugural tournament at the Sausalito Stadium in Viña del Mar.

The home side, Cóndores Sevens, finished Saturday's play under the warm Pacific sun unbeaten in Pool D and with their place in the quarter-final line-up assured following wins over Mexico (45-0), Brazil (43-7) and Zimbabwe (24-19).

Japan's world series experience saw them overcome a slow start to top Pool A with three wins out of three, and Hong Kong followed suit in Pool B, although they were pushed all the way in their final game by Jamaica. After a comfortable win over Paraguay, Germany survived two tough encounters against Italy and Uganda to top Pool C.

Also reaching the final eight were Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Uganda and Zimbabwe as the four best runners-up.

Japan capitalise on Tongan ill-discipline

Despite spending two weeks preparing for the tournament in Chile, Japan took time to find their feet against Uruguay despite the 17-12 win. Had Los Teros Sevens been able to control the slippery ball and not given away so many opportunities, the result could have gone the other way. This game set the tone for Pool A.

Japan, preparing to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, were then too powerful for Portugal and showed their composure and experience to beat Tonga in their third and final game. Japan only led 14-7 at the break but Tonga's ill-discipline cost them dearly and with four players sent to the sin-bin, they lost 33-7. 

Earlier, Tonga also benefited from Uruguay's lack of composure at key moments to secure their ticket to quarter-finals. Los Teros Sevens, who will join Chile in the World Rugby Olympic repechage qualification tournament in June, beat Portugal 39-5 in their last game, too late to have any hopes of advancing to the top eight.

What might have been for Jamaica

Hong Kong reached Pool B's decisive game against Jamaica with 62 points scored and none against, but they had to fight hard to beat the Reggae Crocs 14-7 in a tense final encounter.

"We are happy with the three wins out of three, made tough work for the last one, more so finishing the game with six players which is always tough," said Hong Kong captain Max Woodward.

"Some of the teams showed probably their tiredness with the long trip over but it was overall a good first day. We look forward now to our quarter-final game against Uganda tomorrow."

Jamaica will forever regret their decision not to kick for goal in an earlier match against Papua New Guinea, which cost them the match and, ultimately, a quarter-final place. Trailing 12-10 with the hooter gone, they were awarded a penalty in a kickable position but chose to run it rather than attempt to kick for the three points which would have won them the game.

Germany come through tough tests

Eight tries in the opening game against Paraguay made everyone take notice of Germany, the top team in Pool C. Their following two games tested them more severely though, as Italy (24-17) and Uganda (17-12) put them under huge pressure.

By then, Uganda had already beaten Italy 24-14 in the first-ever Challenger Series fixture and with a 47-0 win against Paraguay in their second game, the Phillip Wokorach-inspired Africans had done enough to finish as runners-up.

Chile survive scare from Cheetahs

Meanwhile, Los Cóndores Sevens, regular competitors for promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, made their intentions very clear at home, playing with real purpose in front of their vocal supporters. Having scored 14 tries, and conceded only one in their first two games, they had to work much harder against Zimbabwe who came close to upsetting them.

Japan play Zimbabwe in the first of the quarter-finals, followed by Germany v Papua New Guinea, then Chile take on Tonga before the last semi-final spot will be decided by Hong Kong and Uganda.

Following Sunday's play, the Challenger Series will move on to Montevideo in Uruguay.

Photo: GaspaFotos