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South Africa, New Zealand into Canada Sevens quarterfinals

March 11, 2018

Ngarohi McGrarvey Black, of New Zealand, tries to keep the ball from Cecil Afrika, of South Africa, at the World Rugby Seven Series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, March, 10, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — New Zealand beat World Rugby Sevens series leaders South Africa 33-14 to finish top of their pool at the Canada Sevens tournament on Saturday and set up a quarterfinal showdown with the United States.

The New Zealanders, who trailed South Africa (92 points) by 10 points going into Vancouver’s sixth leg on the 10-stop circuit, beat Scotland 31-26, Russia 31-5 and then struck a psychological blow with victory over the South Africans.

South Africa also qualified as runners-up from Pool D, however, by earlier beating Russia 38-7 and Scotland 21-0 and will face Australia in the quarterfinals.

Australia needed to win or draw against the U.S. in the final Pool A match of the night to qualify. The Aussies did, coming back from a 21-7 deficit on John Porch’s three tries to beat the U.S. 31-21 and qualify first from its pool, with Canada missing out by finishing third behind the Americans.

Host Canada had a 19-19 draw with Australia before losing on the final play 28-21 to the U.S., which won last week’s USA Sevens at Las Vegas.

Forward John Moonlight outraced a defender to score a try in the dying seconds to give Canada its draw with Australia.

The Australians scored just 13 seconds into the match but Canada edged back to 19-12. With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Moonlight took a pass from Nathan Hirayama and dashed over to score.

Canada needed a big win over Uruguay in its final match and got it, beating the South Americans 47-5 in which Justin Douglas scored his 99th and 100th career tries for the winners, but still missed out on the quarterfinals when Australia beat the U.S.

Olympic champions Fiji also won all three pool matches, including a tight 29-21 win over Kenya in its last fixture of the day, to qualify for the final eight. Fiji will play Argentina in Sunday’s quarterfinals while England, the winner of Pool B, takes on Kenya. England, Argentina and Samoa all finished level on points in Pool B but England and Argentina advanced on percentages while Samoa was relegated to the challenge tournament for teams that did not make the quarterfinals of the Cup event.

Fiji has 79 points to trail New Zealand by three points in the overall standings, while Australia is fourth with 72.

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