27 Mar 2011

NZ struggle, South Africa on fire in Hong Kong

8:54 am on 27 March 2011

The New Zealand rugby sevens side laboured past today's quarter-final opponents Portugal 19-12 in pool play at the glamour Hong Kong tournament, before beating France 19-7.

Joint World Series leaders England got a fright from Japan before winning 33-14 and then went on to down USA 37-12.

There was a welcome win for Japan late in the day - their first in the tournament after losses to USA and England.

South Africa look like the side to beat after 23-year-old playmaker Cecil Afrika added 37 points to his already world-beating tally in a show of clinical finishing against the hosts.

Afrika notched 11 conversions as his side ran riot over Hong Kong, winning 45-0, before trouncing Wales 42-12.

In other games reigning Hong Kong champions Samoa remained unbeaten thanks to 24-17 and 31-14 wins over Tonga and Scotland, respectively, while the Australians took a little time to find their feet, struggling to see off a determined Canada 26-24 before beating Argentina 21-14.

Fiji too kept in the title race with a 29-14 win over Russia and a 40-0 victory over Kenya late in the day.

Sunday's all-important Cup quarter-final draw has pitted New Zealand against Portugal, South Africa against Fiji, Samoa against Australia and England against Russia.