Record for Senatla as USA, Canada cause Sevens shocks


Johannesburg (AFP)

South African Seabelo Senatla became the fastest scorer of 200 World Rugby Sevens Series tries Saturday while the United States and Canada caused shocks on the first day of the Cape Town leg.

Senatla achieved the feat in 35 World Rugby Sevens tournaments, bettering the 51-tournament record of Dan Norton from England.

He began the day with 196 tries and added five, including one in a 26-7 victory over Kenya in the last of 24 pool matches watched by a 47,000 Cape Town Stadium crowd.

"It has been a surreal day for me," said Senatla. "The reception I got was amazing and to play in my home town was incredible. The crowd was sensational."

Title-holders South Africa also defeated Russia 40-5 and France 31-5 to top Pool A and secure a Sunday quarter-final date with Pool D runners-up Fiji.

But captain Philip Snyman warned that his team must improve if they hope to triumph again after winning the first leg of the 2017-2018 season in Dubai last weekend.

"We need to study replays of our pool matches and solve several problems, including a lack of discipline and patience," he said.

"The boys conceded far too many penalties in the pool matches and made unnecessary passes owing to a lack of patience."

The United States improved dramatically after losing all four matches in Dubai to defeat New Zealand 22-0, Australia 31-14 and Spain 26-5 and win Pool B.

New Zealand needed to beat Australia in the final match of the section to avoid missing the knockout phase for the first time and survived a scare before emerging 35-12 victors.

Dylan Collier scored two tries while his team were reduced to six men by a yellow card to give the New Zealanders a 21-0 half-time advantage.

Australia hit back early in the second half with tries from Simon Kennewell and Lewis Holland to leave only nine points separating the great sporting rivals.

But the Kiwis regained control and a late Sione Molia score sealed success and second place behind the Americans.

"We started the day slowly but bounced back impressively against Australia," said New Zealand coach Clark Laidlaw.

"You cannot win a sevens tournament on the first day, but you can lose it, and the loss to the Untied States was a wake-up call that we heeded."

Canada, who lost three of five matches in Dubai to share 11th place, were another team to impress in Cape Town.

Having lost narrowly to Samoa in their Pool D opener, they shocked 2016 Rio Olympic Games sevens champions Fiji 22-14 before a 31-14 victory over Wales clinched top spot.

England, who pipped South Africa in the final of the Cape Town leg last season, finished first in Pool C ahead of Argentina, Scotland and a disappointing Uganda.

The English overcame Uganda 36-0 and Argentina 24-7 before edging Scotland 12-7 after trailing by seven points at half-time.

A Glenn Bryce try after a one-hand intercept put Scotland ahead, Tom Mitchell scored the first England try and the match-winning score came from Ruaridh McConnochie.

"We did not play particularly well today," admitted England coach Simon Amor. "The players did show a lot of heart, though, and we will give it our best shot tomorrow."

England face New Zealand, Canada tackle France and the United States confront Argentina in other quarter-finals.