Samoa are well-placed to reclaim the Oceania Sevens Championship after a stellar performance on Day One in Apia.
The home team, who won the tournament in both 2008 and 2009, finished the day with a 39-7 clobbering of the Solomon Islands following earlier wins over Niue (47-0), Australia (35-12) and the Cook Islands by an impressive 60-0.
Samoa will play American Samoa in the quarter finals tomorrow, with the winner likely to meet Tonga in the semis.
On the other side of the draw Fiji are on target to meet defending champion Australia in the last four after not conceding a point on the opening day.
The top seeds kept a clean sheet as they hammered American Samoa 61-0 in their final pool match, New Caledonia 47-0, Tonga 21-0 and Papua New Guinea in a surprising 48-0 scoreline and they will play the Cook Islands in the first of the quarter finals.
Australia play an off-colour Papua New Guinea in the quarters.
Fiji and PNG had last met at the XIV Pacific Games in New Caledonia, when Fiji won 24-19 in a thriller in extra-time, and coach Joe Savou said he expected more today.
“We were a little scared after what they did to us in the Pacific Games but we changed our game plan and it worked very well,” said Savou. “In particular our defence which denied space to the fast guys in the PNG team”.
Following a loss first up, Australia toppled the Solomons 33-10, the Cooks 31-12 and Niue 24-17 in a hard-fought encounter.
Captain Jordan Smiler was pleased with the progress during the day.
“The boys are just starting to adjust to the heat and each match we get a little bit more right,” he said. “We’ve made things a bit harder for ourselves all day but this is a new team and we’re still building and learning at this level.”
Samoa had won the clash of the day against Australia by a commanding 35-12 scoreline with Tom Iosefo scoring three tries.
Earlier, a thrilling 19-19 draw between Tonga and Papua New Guinea had kicked off the tournament, which is funded by the IRB and acts as a qualifier for the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Tonga led at halftime with tries to Paula Kata and Atelea Okati to one from Henry Liliket before Albert Levi unleashed his extraordinary pace, streaking 80m to score under the posts and give PNG a 14-12 lead.
Kata’s second looked to be the match winner, however, PNG ran the length of the field and Jason Missian scored in the corner after the hooter had sounded although he was unable to convert.
Niue surprised the Cook Islands with a deserved 19-12 win while the smaller nations – American Samoa, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands – all gained valuable experience.
The top two non-core teams from the tournament will go to the Wellington Sevens with the top non-core team also being invited to Hong Kong.
Samoa, Fiji and Australia are core teams and therefore already part of these events. These three countries will also be part of the USA 7s February 10-12 in Las Vegas. Go to www.usasevens.com for more information and early-bird ticket deals.
Results from Day One:
Tonga 19 Papua New Guinea 19
American Samoa 31 New Caledonia 7
Fiji 21 Tonga 0
Papua New Guinea 21 American Samoa 17
Tonga 45 New Caledonia 5
Fiji 48 Papua New Guinea 0
Tonga 26 American Samoa 5
Fiji 47 New Caledonia 0
Papua New Guinea 45 New Caledonia 7
Fiji 61 American Samoa 0
Samoa 47 Niue 0
Cook Islands 19 Solomon Islands 7
Niue 19 Cook Islands 12
Samoa 35 Australia 12
Niue 27 Solomon Islands 7
Australia 31 Cook Islands 12
Australia 33 Solomon Islands 10
Samoa 60 Cook Islands 0
Australia 24 Niue 17
Samoa 39 Solomon Islands 7
Fiji v Cook Islands
Papua New Guinea v Australia
Tonga v Niue
Samoa v American Samoa
New Caledonia v Solomon Island