England, Fiji in form at New Zealand Sevens
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Fiji shocked host New Zealand 12-7 in pool play to qualify with an unbeaten record for the quarterfinals of the New Zealand Sevens on Friday.
While Fiji topped Pool B and will face Argentina in the quarterfinals, defending champion England beat South Africa 19-5 to finish unbeaten in Pool A and to earn a playoff on Saturday against Samoa.
Canada won all three matches in Pool C, including a decider against Argentina 24-5. The reward for its first-place finish was a quarterfinal clash with New Zealand, which clinched second place in Pool B with a 47-0 win over France.
Australia nipped Samoa 15-12 in a thriller to top Pool D and will play South Africa in the last eight.
Tom Mitchell scored the first and last tries while James Rodwell scored another as England powered past South Africa in its decisive pool match. England coach Simon Amor praised his team’s defensive performance against a South African team coming off a win at the world series’ last stop in Las Vegas.
“We have been up and down,” Amor said. “We know we have wonderful attacking players and against South Africa James Rodwell and Phil Burgess were brilliant, especially Burgess, considering he’s hardly played any sevens games.
“We need to step up against Samoa.”
Fiji followed its win over archrival New Zealand with a 26-5 win over France and 45-14 win over Spain.
“I’m pleased with today,” Fiji coach Ben Ryan said. “It’s now about sleeping well and coming out competitive tomorrow.
“I know chasing the top two is going to be hard but we haven’t given up hope.”
Cameron Clark kicked a penalty on the final hooter to give Australia a come-from-behind win over Samoa in the decisive match in Pool D.
Samoa led 12-5 less than two minutes into the second half but substitute Shannon Walker scored a superb solo try from his own 22 which allowed Australia to tie the scores, and Clark settled the match with his late penalty goal.
New Zealand was stirred into action by its loss to Fiji and went on to crush Spain 55-0 and France 47-0.
Captain DJ Forbes said, “We can forget today and start afresh tomorrow. We are disappointed to lose at home. But we have bounced back and are looking ahead to the quarterfinals now.”