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Kenya off to fast start in Las Vegas Sevens

05 March 2016, 17:57

Los Angeles - New Zealand got off to a quick start in their bid for a third straight Rugby Sevens World Series triumph, winning both of their matches on the opening day of the Las Vegas Sevens on Friday.

New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Kenya and Argentina all won both of their opening day matches, but reigning series champions Fiji were stunned by Samoa in their opening contest.

Savelio Ropati's late try lifted Samoa to a dramatic 28-24 victory over their Pacific rivals, who rebounded with a comfortable 42-12 victory over France.

England's day got off to a rocky start as they had to battle back from a 19-5 deficit to salvage a 19-19 draw with Japan.

Two tries in the final two minutes, the second converted by Tom Mitchell, gained the draw, but in England's second match -- the last of the day -- Joe Nayacavou sealed a superb win for Scotland with a try on the last play of a 24-14 victory that knocked England out of the running for the Cup.

New Zealand -- whose victories at Wellington and Sydney in the last two stops in the series pulled them level with Fiji and South Africa atop the standings -- opened the tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium with a 42-7 victory over Portugal.

They followed up with a 38-0 win over Russia and in their final Pool A match they will take on Kenya, who also went two-for-two on Friday, as did Australia in Pool B, Argentina in Pool C and South Africa in Pool D.

Bryan Habana, South Africa's leading try-scorer in tests with 64, returned to sevens after a 12-year hiatus as South Africa notched victories over Canada and Wales.

Australia opened their campaign with a 26-0 rout of Scotland that included the sevens debut of Quade Cooper, the veteran of the 15-a-side game.

Cooper, 27, came on as a substitute in the final five minutes against Scotland and struggled at first to adjust to the rhythm of the seven-a-side format.

However, he contributed four conversions in a 35-5 victory over Japan.

Hosts the United States opened with a 19-12 victory over Wales, but wasted a 12-point lead in a sloppy 26-26 draw with Canada.

The Las Vegas tournament is the fifth stop in the 10-event series, which even more in the spotlight this year with rugby making a return to the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro in August.

Friday's action drew a crowd of 18,441 -- a record USA Sevens one-day attendance.

Pool play continues on Saturday before the event concludes on Sunday.



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