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New Zealand Into Quarterfinals After First Up Loss Top Samoa

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
New Zealand Into Quarterfinals After First Up Loss Top Samoa

Wellington, Dec 12 NZPA/AFP - New Zealand, winners of last week's opening round of the world sevens rugby series in Dubai, made the quarterfinals of this week's round in South Africa despite an opening pool match loss to Samoa.

New Zealand recovered from the 22-24 loss to Samoa in a rematch of last weekend's Dubai final, to beat the United States 57-0 and Wales 17-10 in their other pool C matches.

New Zealand were to meet England in tonight's quarterfinals while Samoa will play Argentina.

The other top eight matches see Kenya play Australia and Fiji take on defending series champions South Africa.

New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens was satisfied with the team's display but expected they needed to step up another level in the quarterfinals (beginning tonight NZtime).

"We are in the quarterfinals, its somewhere we wanted to be but it'll be a different kettle of fish tomorrow.

"I haven't seen a lot of England and we'll be doing a lot of analysis but they lift themselves for New Zealand and we lift ourselves for England and that's what quarterfinals is all about.

"It'll be a different level, different intensity, obviously featuring the better players in the tournament and it's going to come down to the wire and we want to be part of that. We're still in the competition and with the chance to win it."

New Zealand beat Samoa 24-12 when the teams clashed in the Dubai final last weekend and made a dream start in the Western Cape city of George with leading try scorer Sherwin Showers dotting down 20 seconds into the opening half.

But Samoa stormed back to compile 24 unanswered points through tries by Mikaele Pesamino, Alafoti Fa'osiliva, Ruepeni Levasa with Lolo Lui converting them all and adding a drop goal.

After leading 17-5 at half-time at sun-drenched Outeniqua Park, the Samoans added their third try before fading in the closing stages and Stowers, Save Tokula and Toby Arnold crossed for New Zealand but just one try was converted.

With two points separating the long-time rivals the hooter sounded and the Samoans began celebrating only for the French referee to insist play must continue.

However, any chance New Zealand had of completing their comeback with a match-winning try was crushed when they failed to secure possession from the kick-off and Samoa booted the ball into touch.

South Africa moved into the quarterfinals along with Pool A rivals Kenya, who held them to a 12-12 draw.

Mzwandile Stick sent over a long, late conversion from the touchline to deny their fellow Africans a famous victory.

Innocent Simiyu and Humphrey Kayange had touched down in the opening period to put the Kenyans in the driving seat but Stick and Deon Helberg both went over as the hosts fought back.

Earlier, South Africa had beaten France 38-14 and Zimbabwe 29-5 while Kenya thrashed the Zimbabweans 50-0 and waltzed past France 33-7.

Dubai marked the start of the eight-tournament 2009-2010 Sevens season and after reaching the semi-finals, England came to South Africa confident of making an impression.

It showed in their opening outing as they tore inexperienced Tunisia apart to win 45-0 with the losers not helped by the first-half yellow card shown to Amor Hamdi for tackling an airborne opponent.

England took 30 seconds to forge ahead with Jake Abbott snapping up an inside pass to go over and he crossed the tryline again after new skipper Kevin Barrett set him up with a long pass.

Christian Wade, an 18-year-old considered the rising star of the England squad, also scored a try before Hamdi was 'sin binned' and further tries from Dan Norton and Wade established a 33-0 interval cushion.

Lifting their foot off the accelerator, England added just two tries in the second half courtesy of veteran star Ben Gollings and Nick Royle while Tunisian woes continued with the loss of injured Abbes Kherfani.

Fiji, the other losing semifinalists in Dubai, were the first team to reach the half-century point mark in George and eventually toyed with understrength Portugal in a 50-7 victory.

Towering Pio Tuwai led the eight-try romp with a couple and there was one each from Osea Kolinisau, William Ryder, Watisoni Votu, Emosi Vucago, Jiuta Lutumailagi and Sireli Naqelevuki for the Fijians who led 24-7 at the break.


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