SYDNEY SEVENS: England shock BlitzBoks again
DAY ONE WRAP: England, as they did in Cape Town, beat South Africa in a crucial match - this time in a decisive pool fixture on Day One at the Sydney leg of the Sevens World Series.
South Africa and England had already qualified for the Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, but had to play for top spot in Pool A.
Two late tries, after the BlitzBoks had taken a commanding 15-7 lead, saw England claim first place with a 21-15 win.
In Pool B, Wales and Fiji progressed to the last eight - Wales after a 7-all draw with Samoa and Fiji thrashing France 31-7.
In Pool C hosts Australia overcame an early scare to beat Papa New Guinea 26-7 and advance for the Cup section. New Zealand edged Scotland 14-7 to join Australia in the Cu[ section.
Argentina qualified for the Cup quarterfinals after their dramatic 17-all draw with Canada - a superior points difference getting them, there. The United States finished top of Pool D, despite a loss to Russia, as a result of the draw between Canada and Los Pumas.
Henry Hutchison, Australia's wonderkid, said after his side's victory over Papa New Guinea that they put themselves on the back foot with an early defeat.
"However, we showed character to win against Scotland and a great Papa New Guinea outfit,"Hutchinson said.
"Wales are in great form, we played well against them in Wellington so am sure they'll be out to get one back over us and we'll have to watch out for that."
South Africa top the standings after the last round in Wellington and Canada and Scotland will be hoping to build on impressive performances last weekend, too.
We look at all the early pool action!
(South Africa, England, Kenya, Japan)
Billy Odhiambo put Kenya on the board first, but the Japanese jumped for joy after they got their first points of the day in Sydney. Jamie Henry, who missed the tournament in Wellington last week, was in oceans of space on the right and Katsuyuki Sakai's conversion put Japan in the lead, 7-5, at the break.
Japan looked to have saved their best to the last match of the day - as Masahiro Nakano got in on the fun to extend his side's lead. Kenya then intelligently used the width of the field and sent it into the hands of Brian Tanga, who pinned his ears back and headed for the line. There were still two points in it with two minutes on the clock and Collins Injera showed why he is the top try-scorer (238) in Sevens Series with the most delightful score to win it for Kenya at the death.
Phil Burgess showed his deceptive pace to give England a 7-0 lead, after South Africa were caught napping at a tackle. You just can't keep Seabelo Senatla out of the match - his speed getting him his sixth try for the day and 29th for the season. Then Justin Geduld picked out Chris Dry with a beautiful cross-field kick to put South Africa in the lead (10-7) at the break.
After the break Justin Geduld went over himself, darting down the wing past Tom Bowen to put breathing space between the two sides. Alex Davis with a beautiful dummy overlap with James Rodwell the dummy runner, and the beneficiary was Dan Norton - as it became a one-point game, 15-14.
Oliver Lindsay-Hague set up James Rodwell with a cross-field kick to put England in the lead with less than a minute to go - holding on for a 21-15 win.
England 19-12 Kenya
South Africa 32-9 Japan
England 26-0 Japan
South Africa 14-7 Kenya
Kenya 17-12 Japan
South Africa 15-21
(Fiji, France, Wales, Samoa)
Samoa were down a man midway through the first half of their final pool match, against Wales - Tila Mealoi for a dangerous tackle in a scoreless first half.
Luke Treharne put Wales ahead soon after the restart for the second half, but it was soon tied up again, as Ed Fidow picked it up off the carpet and roared for the line. Mealoi went from villain to hero, as he made an unbelievable try-saving tackle to deny Owen Lane a match-winning try right on the full-time hooter - leaving the teams tied at 7-all.
Fiji, still smarting from their defeat to Wales earlier in the day, got out the blocks quickly against the French - Jerry Tuwai racking up Sevens Series try No.60. Joeli Lutumailagi, who scored eight tries and was in the Dream Team at Wellington last week, scored with a smile to take his tally for the day to four just before the break.
There was a wonderful moment for Nacanieli Labalaba, as he checked inside and jinked his way over the tryline with power and poise to land his first Sevens Series try. Fiji went into overdrive, but did not end the game with a clean slate because Jean Pascal Barraque got one for France, before Samisoni Viriviri had the final say.
France 12-14 Wales
Fiji 40-0 Samoa
France 17-14 Samoa
Fiji 15-28 Wales
Wales 7-7 Samoa
Fiji 31-7 France
(Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea)
Australia, needing a win for a spot in the Cup quarterfinals, did not have the ideal start - Sam Myers sending a plumb pass into the hands of Papa New Guinea 's Emmanuel Guise straight from the kick-off and he punished the hosts. However, Australia settled down as Henry Hutchinson, who only turns 20 next Sunday, wrestled his way to the line and Charlie Taylor had the determination on the left wing to keep the legs pumping and get across the line for his country.
James Stannard lead the way with an incredible tempo game, immediately after the restart, rolling back the years again and giving his country some breathing space after top work by the industrious Hutchinson. Simon Kennewell finished the job for the hosts and sealed their spot in the top eight on Sunday.
Scotland made it through the first two minutes without allowing New Zealand a touch of the ball. Not only that, they had an all-important try of their own to celebrate, because Gavin Lowe went over and the All Black Sevens were looking a little frustrated. Tim Mikkelson then set up captain Scott Curry and he was too hot for Scotland's defence - leaving the teams locked up 7-all at the half-time break.
There was brave, brilliant work from 18-year-old Vilimoni Koroi to deny James Fleming, who looked to be in the clear for Scotland. Regan Ware then made an instant impact off the bench with a break on the outside and the ball fell fortunately for Tim Mikkelson to score again. That allowed New Zealand to extinguish Scotland's hopes of a Cup quarterfinal spot with 14-7 win.
New Zealand 26-14 Australia
Scotland 26-12 Papua New Guinea
New Zealand 31-7 Papua New Guinea
Scotland 14-43 Australia
Australia 26-7 Papua New Guinea
Scotland 7-14 New Zealand
(Canada, Argentina, United States, Russia)
The United States Eagles did not have it all their own way against Russia, who sent it through the hands with a simple and clinical catch-and-pass move involving playmaker Eduard Filatov and Ivan Kotov, before Dmitry Sukhin drove for the line for his second try of the day. Carlin Isles used his devastating outright pace as he roared over for United States to bring his country level. Eduard Filatov was also on fire and scored in between Isles's double.
It was a successful outing for Russia and they produced their first win at the Sydney Sevens. With 30 seconds on the clock, Russia produced a lovely move, as Vladislav Lazarenko finished off a left-to-right switch to score his 25th Sevens Series career try.
Big Adam Zaruba sets Justin Douglas away and the Canadian's blistering pace meant nobody could catch him as Canada got the first score in the pool decider against Argentina - with the winner set to join the United States in the Cup competition. Canada lost possession as Isaac Kaay threw a stray pass and Nicolas Menéndez took full of advantage. There was more drama right on the half-time hooter as Los Pumas won the turnover and Matias Osadczuk threw a dummy, pirouetted and had a clear run for the line.
It remained a fiercely competitive, energy-sapping contest and Justin Douglas had his hands on his knees and was gasping for air after Argentina surrendered possession and the Canadian 22-year-old fired into top gear and tan from his own 22 to the tryline. Pat Kay went over with 10 seconds on the clock and the game was tied, with a conversion kick to come. Kay's kick was agonisingly wide and Argentina qualified for the top eight courtesy of a superior points difference.
Argentina 19-22 United States
Canada 12-7 Russia
Argentina 19-14 Russia
Canada 19-31 United States
United States 14-17 Russia
Canada 17-17 Argentina