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New Zealand suffer shock defeat on opening day of Hong Kong Sevens

By Tom Vinicombe
Steve Onosai. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)

The All Blacks Sevens have suffered a sizeable defeat in their opening match of the Hong Kong Sevens, throwing their tournament into disarray.

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Playing against Samoa in the penultimate game of the day, NZ flattered to deceive on the pitch, succumbing to a significant 24-0 defeat.

While tries were hard to come by in the early exchanges, with scores locked up at nil-all until the final moments of first half, Melani Matavao touched down immediately before the break to give Samoa a 5-0 lead going into half-time. Samoa scored three further tries through Vaa Apelu Maliko, Paul Scanlan and Steve Onosai in the second half to leave New Zealand with a tough task tomorrow.

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The All Blacks Sevens will take on pool mates Australia and Hong Kong in Sunday’s fixtures and will need to bank two victories in order to give themselves any chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

After securing first place in the final leg of the 2021-22 series, missing out on the quarter-finals of the opening tournament of the season would mark a less-than-ideal start to their new campaign.

NZ’s loss was the only upset of the day, although Spain came ever-so-close to tipping over the United States, with a Malacchi Esdale try in the final play of the game saving the USA’s blushes and securing them a 15-14 victory. France also surprised with the dominant display against Great Britain, smashing the composite side 34-0. Aaron Grandidier dazzled with a hattrick of tries for Les Bleus.

The two top seeds in each pool are due to face off on Sunday, with France squaring off with South Africa, Fiji taking on USA, Argentina tackling Ireland, and NZ and Australia going to battle in the final match of the day.

Hong Kong Sevens Day 1 results:

Ireland 28 – 12 Kenya
Argentina 36 – 0 Canada
USA 15 – 14 Spain
Fiji 59 – 12 Japan
France 34 – 0 Great Britain
South Africa 21 – 0 Uruguay
New Zealand 0 – 24 Samoa
Australia 43 – 0 Hong Kong

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