New Zealand, Fiji shine as England crash out of sevens

Wellington (AFP) –


New Zealand and Fiji emerged as the leading contenders after pool play in the third leg of the World Rugby Sevens series while England crashed out in Hamilton on Saturday.

South Africa and series leaders USA also went through pool play unbeaten with the Americans ensuring Samoa qualified when they beat England in the crucial final match of pool B.

New Zealand, who won the opening leg in Dubai, amassed 125 points from their three games after beating Japan 52-0, Canada 49-10 and Spain 24-0.

The win over Japan was the first meeting between the two sides since Japan produced a shock 14-12 win in pool play at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Fiji, the defending champions in New Zealand and who won the last round in South Africa, also notched a half-century of points when they beat Wales 54-7 in their opener.

But they were held to 33-24 against Argentina and only a late try by Mesulame Kunavula gave them a clean sweep for the day when they beat Australia 26-19.

Samoa, wearing black armbands in memory of former under 20 flanker Faiva Tagatauli, who died this week following a head injury in a club game, produced the biggest upset when they beat England 12-10.

It left England needing to beat the USA in their final match to get through but they could not stay with the Americans who pulled off a 19-7 victory without prolific try scorer Perry Baker who suffered a suspected broken jaw in their opening match against Tonga.

South Africa, who lie fifth in the series after two rounds had wins over Kenya, France and Scotland, to emerge from pool B unbeaten and which will ensure they overtake England in the overall standings.

In Sunday's quarter-finals, Fiji play Canada, New Zealand are against Australia, South Africa play Samoa and USA play Scotland.