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Samoa’s Elisapeta Alofipo races away from the New Zealand defense on day one of the HSBC SVNS at Cape Town Stadium on 9 December, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Highlights: Cape Town Sevens | Day 1 | HSBC SVNS 2024

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All Blacks Sevens need help to reach the quarterfinals, while defending champions Samoa fail to qualify.

Defending Cape Town champions Samoa failed to qualify for the quarters on the opening day of the second leg of HSBC SVNS.

Samoa finished bottom of Pool C, as New Zealand scraped into the quarter-finals as one of the best third-place finishers. Meanwhile Canada sprang not one but two early surprises.

Ireland, too, rounded off the day with an unexpected win to confirm their place in the last eight. Argentina, Australia, hosts South Africa, Fiji and France also made it into the quarter-finals.

POOL A: Nortje shines as hosts book quarter-final berth

South Africa have unearthed a real talent in Quewin Nortje as they target a first home title since 2015. The flyer added two more tries to the four he scored on debut in Dubai last week, as they beat Great Britain 19-5 in their opener.

In the hosts’ second match, Lucas Lacamp scored two tries in quick succession as USA came back to level the scores. But touchdowns for Impi Visser and Ronald Brown in the closing minutes ensured the Blitzboks went two for two.

Zac Ward notched a double as Ireland made their bow in Cape Town with a 31-0 win over USA. Then it was Harry McNulty’s turn to run the show, scoring either side of half-time as the Irish added a second win to their Cape Town campaign, 19-14 over Great Britain.

Winless Great Britain needed to beat the winless USA in their final match of the day by 31 points to book their passage to the last eight, at the expense of New Zealand. It was always a long shot, and they didn’t manage it.

Instead, at the end of a 26-26 thriller, the match went to golden point. A Tom Emery touchdown after Marcus Tupuola was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, gave Great Britain a win and condemned last year’s bronze medallists to a bottom-of-the-pool finish.

But the best was saved for the final match of Pool A, the final match of the day, as Ireland shocked the hosts to edge a high-intensity encounter 14-12.

POOL B: Revol celebrates 100th tournament

“I’m really proud of everything that has happened over the years,” Los Pumas Sevens veteran Gastón Revol said after his first outing at his 100th tournament ended with a 21-7 win over France.

It was the two sides’ second match of the day. Earlier, two tries in the first four minutes for Luciano Gonzalez set Los Pumas on the way to a 31-12 win over Spain.

Meanwhile, Rayan Rebbadj kicked a decisive late penalty with the clock in the red, as France – who struggled with discipline all day – held off a Fiji comeback to win their opening match 17-14. They had raced into a 14-0 first-half lead, before the Pacific Island side roared back to level the scores in the second.

A hat-trick for Pilipo Bukayaro helped get Fiji back on track, as they eased past Spain 33-7 in their second match. And a 19-12 win over Argentina, despite a red card for Josese Batirerega for a high tackle, saw them end the day top of the pool.

France’s indiscipline threatened to cost them against a determined and inventive Spain, as they conceded penalty after penalty with the clock ticking down. But they survived to win a second close encounter 21-19.

POOL C: Pool of shocks

The All Blacks Sevens were caught napping against Canada first up, losing 19-7. Leroy Carter then scored a first-half hat-trick, as New Zealand – their “tournament on the line”, according to Scott Curry – atoned for that opening-match defeat by putting Australia to the sword, winning 35-5 with all their points coming in the first seven minutes.

But their day ended with a 21-14 loss against Samoa. The only saving grace: Curry’s 14th-minute converted try that gave them a bonus point that meant they finished third in Pool C, with other results seeing them through to the quarter-finals.

After their win over New Zealand, an inspired Canada then sprang a second shock, beating defending champions Samoa 33-7.

If it was a bad day at the pools office for New Zealand, it was worse for Samoa. That loss to Canada was their second in as many games. They were earlier beaten 27-7 by an organised Australia.

Canada – 12th in Dubai a week ago – finished day one with a 26-7 defeat against Australia, but finished second in the pool to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Sunday’s quarter-finals will see Argentina play Canada, Ireland face New Zealand, Australia play South Africa and Fiji take on France.

Fiji’s Lavena Cavuru cuts through the Australia defense on day one of the HSBC SVNS at Cape Town Stadium on 9 December, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa

Three sides finish day one in South Africa with perfect winning records.

Australia’s Maddison Levi scored her 100th series try as the Dubai champions won three from three on the opening day at the Cape Town Sevens.

Levi added another five touchdowns to the 12 she scored last weekend, to reach 100 tries in just 15 tournaments as the Australians set out their stall for a first-ever sevens series win in South Africa.

New Zealand and France, too, qualified for the quarter-finals with three wins from three.

Australia will face Ireland in the second quarter-final on Sunday, while New Zealand take on Canada, France will meet Fiji, and Great Britain will play USA.

POOL A: Australia at full throttle

Australia opened their Cape Town account with an imperious-looking 38-0 win over Spain, but the truth is that they had to work harder than the seedings suggested, as Spain held them to 12-0 at half-time.

The Dubai champions stepped it up in their second outing against Japan, winning 54-0, as their all-round game clicked into gear.

And they beat Fiji 28-7, Adi Vani Buleki becoming the first opposition player to register a point against Australia in the pool phase of HSBC SVNS 2024.

Maddison Levi described becoming the fastest Australian player to reach 100 sevens tries as ‘insane’, after ensuring quarter-final qualification with a double in their third and final match.

Earlier, Buleki scored two of Fiji’s six tries as they beat Japan 36-12. They then survived 10 minutes with a player disadvantage, after Ana Maria Naimasi was sent off, to beat Spain 14-10.

Japan rounded off their first day with a hard-fought 22-19 win over Spain.

POOL B: 200 beckons for Black Ferns Sevens’ Blyde

Michaela Blyde reached 199 international sevens tries 10 minutes into New Zealand Sevens’ 37-5 statement win over Great Britain in the opening match at Cape Town.

Six days after Australia had ended their winning streak at 41 matches in the Dubai final, New Zealand were clearly on a mission as they tore Great Britain apart. Brazil then made them work for a 22-12 win in their second match, before they eased past Ireland 33-7 to make it three from three and set up a possible second shot against Australia in the final.

Ireland’s Aimee-Leigh Murphy Crowe climbed to third in the series try-scorers list with a hat-trick as they beat Brazil 39-14. But the Irish came a cropper in their second outing, though they grabbed a losing bonus point late on as they went down 15-19 to Great Britain.

Great Britain raced away in the second half of their match against Brazil – the score went from 12-12 at half-time to 26-12 after four minutes of the second period, where the scoreboard stayed for the rest of the match.

POOL C: France want more after topping pool

France became the third team in Cape Town to go into finals day with a perfect pool phase record.

Their third match against Canada – a repeat of the bronze final in Dubai – was a thriller. Canada had a chance to level the scores at the death, after Chloe Daniels’ late try. But she pulled her conversion attempt wide, to let France off the hook and top the pool with a 19-17 win.

Earlier, Les Bleues had opened their campaign with a 29-7 win over hosts South Africa, Anne-Cecile Ciofani making one impossible try and scoring an 80 metre special as France came back after conceding an early lead.

And they had put on a pool play masterclass in their second outing of the day, as they beat last year’s Cape Town bronze medalists USA 31-0, despite a slightly wasteful first half, when they scored just 12 points, despite numerous entries into the danger zone.

South Africa lost their second match, against Canada, 40-0, and their third against USA 34-0.

USA’s Naya Tapper raced under the posts on the stroke of half-time, as they bagged a 14-0 lead at the break of their opening match against Canada. Alex Sedrick’s try early in the second half settled the match as a contest before Canada came back with two late tries, taking the final score to 21-14.

Three sides finish day one in South Africa with perfect winning records.

Australia’s Madon Levi scored her 100th series try as the Dubai champions won three from three on the opening day at the Cape Town Sevens.

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