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Fiji, NZ, SAfrica start Hong Kong 7s with comfy wins

Fiji, defending champ NZ & South Africa cruise to opening wins at Hong Kong Sevens

Fiji's rugby fans cheer during the first day of the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament in Hong Kong, Friday, March 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

Fiji's rugby fans cheer during the first day of the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament in Hong Kong, Friday, March 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (AP) -- Fiji eased past a team it lost to twice in the final when Samoa was smothered 38-12 in their Hong Kong Sevens opener on Friday.

Fiji, a record 14-time winner of Hong Kong, expected a tough match against its South Pacific neighbor. They met three times in the final; Samoa won in 1993 and 2007, and Fiji in 1998. Their last match in Hong Kong, six years ago, was a draw.

Samoa, criticized by its prime minister for slumping after making the Gold Coast final in the series opener, scored first through Tofatuimoana Solia, but by halftime Fiji led 21-7.

Savenaca Rawaca crossed while Samoa's Lafaele Va'a was in the sin-bin, Semi Kunatani went in after Samoa dropped the ball, and Pio Tuwai scored from a sweeping, 80-meter attack.

Samoa scored again in the second half, but Fiji finished in style, with replacement Josaia Wini scoring twice on debut.

Defending champion New Zealand, and world series leader South Africa, also started well.

When Scotland, which has never beaten New Zealand, leveled at 7-7, the kickoff was immediately returned 80 meters by Sherwin Stowers, and the Kiwis rolled on to win 26-7.

Their biggest pool opposition will be Australia, for which Shannon Walker returned from a 14-month injury layoff and notched the last of its five tries in a 33-5 win over Portugal.

South Africa latest bid to win a first Hong Kong title began by rubbing out Argentina 24-0. The best of the five tries was the second, when Werner Kok blasted up the middle, kicked ahead, and two South Africans could have grabbed the ball. Seabelo Senatla did.

Wales gave England all it could handle, and the latter relied on fine solo tries by Dan Bibby and Tom Mitchell to grab the lead.

Wales' Luke Morgan then fended off Dan Norton and slipped out of another tackle in a great run down the right touch to cut the deficit to two, only for England to score after the first-half hooter through Phil Burgess.

England made it 26-12 when James Rodwell took advantage of three defenders on Bibby. Morgan scored his second try for Wales, but the comeback ran out of time.

France beat Japan 24-7, but relied on a great piece of defense in the second half. At 19-7 up, Japan captain Katsuyuki Sakai was haring into the left corner when he was caught by Jonathan Laugel, who turned Sakai over on his back over the tryline, and knocked the ball out of his grasp.

The United States, a semifinalist at its home sevens last month, came from 14-0 down against Kenya at halftime to speed into a 21-14 lead, then just hung on. Kenya stole a defensive lineout near its own tryline with seconds to go, and worked the ball all the way to 10 meters out from the U.S. line when it conceded a game-ending penalty.

Also, Canada beat newcomer Belgium 28-12.

Updated : 2021-09-19 03:31 GMT+08:00