New Zealand teams progress in Dubai
Both New Zealand Sevens teams had some scares before qualifying for the quarterfinals in the season-opening HSBC SVNS World Series in Dubai on Saturday.
While the defending champion Black Ferns Sevens were unbeaten, captain Sarah Hirini appeared to suffer a bad injury in their 43-7 thumping of Britain; the All Blacks Sevens were beaten by the defending Dubai Sevens champions South Africa 21-19.
The All Blacks Sevens did claim a loser's bonus point from the win to ensure themselves of second place in the group, and they will play the United States in the quarterfinal at 8.42 pm on Sunday.
South Africa will meet Australia at 7.58 pm, while in the other playoffs, Ireland will play Fiji, and Samoa will play Argentina.
The Black Ferns will play Brazil in their quarterfinal at 6.30 pm on Sunday. The other quarterfinals are France vs. Fiji, Ireland vs. Canada, and the USA vs. Australia.
In the final game of the opening day, Tepeaa Cook Savage scored in the first minute and Ngarohi McGarvey-Black in the second to give New Zealand a 12-0 lead. Quewin Nortje scored, and with Justin Geduld's conversion, South Africa scored their first seven points.
Moses Leo scored just before halftime for the All Blacks Sevens to turn with a 19-7 lead, but two converted tries scored by Ronald Brown and Masande Mtshali in two minutes were enough for South Africa to claim the win.
Earlier, in their opening game, it took two late converted tries to Scott Curry and Fehi Fineanganofo to knock back a game Canadian side, who led the New Zealanders 14-12 at halftime.
Curry and Akuila Rokolisoa scored in the first five minutes, but Canada replied through Josiah Morra and Jake Thiel, both tries converted. Matt Orowu extended the lead with a converted try midway through the second half. But the New Zealanders came back with their two tries.
They also had to come from behind to beat Samoa 14-12.
Pelasio Samuelu Niuula opened the scoring in the game, with Curry replying a minute later. New Zealand turned ahead 7-5, but Malakesi Masefau reclaimed the lead for Samoa early in the second half.
It wasn't until the last moments that Brady Rush scored, with Tepaea Cook Savage adding the conversion for the win.
In their opening game, the Black Ferns Sevens made a slow start, down 5-14 at halftime to a South African team playing its first tournament since 2015. South Africa scored converted tries through Nadine Roos and Maria Tshiremba, with Mahina Paul's first-half try, New Zealand's only points.
But in the second half, Jazmin Felix-Hotham's converted try got them within two points, and four minutes later, just before fulltime, Hirini scored with Risi Pouri-Lane landing a second conversion.
Ahead 12-7 at halftime through tries to Portia Woodman-Wickliffe and Stacey Waaka, the Black Ferns poured on the pressure in the second half, with Alena Saili scoring soon after the start to be followed by Michaele Blyde, who scored in the ninth and 11th minutes, before Jorja Miller and Mahina Paul finished off with tries in the 12th and 13th minutes.
Pouri-Lane and Tenika Willison landed two conversions each.
In their final game, Fiji scored first when Adi Vani Buleki crossed in the first minute. But Felix-Hotham and Waaka scored to give the Black Ferns a 12-7 lead. Reapi Ulunisau opened the second-half scoring for Fiji, but Saili and Waaka scored in the ninth and 11th minutes to keep New Zealand in front.
Laisani Moceisawana's 12th-minute try gave Fiji a chance, but that was countered when Paul scored just before full-time.