Fiji lay down early marker at Hong Kong Sevens

Fiji laid down a marker with a 59-12 demolition of Japan on the opening day of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, coming back from the scare of conceding the first try.

The Pacific islanders were the biggest scorers as the annual competition came back after two-and-a-half years of Covid-related cancellations, with big wins too for Argentina -- walloping Canada 36-0 -- and reigning World Sevens Series champs Australia, who beat the hosts 43-0.

Fiji, the reigning Hong Kong Sevens champions and the most successful side in the local tournament's history, put on nine tries, with Japan getting just one more after the first minute, again through Taisei Hayashi.

Fiji coach Ben Gollings said he was pleased with his side's response to the early setback in the Pool C clash.

"The key is that, if we get the ball back, control the ball, we could control the game," he said.

"We've been developing this squad. It's a big opportunity to give them this opportunity. It's a big one, Hong Kong, but they handled it well."

He talked up the contribution of emerging half-back Filipo Bukayaro -- a "fantastic little player" -- noting he had "big shoes to fill" taking over from the islanders' legendary former captain Jerry Tuwai.

But he added that Tuwai was still a major presence for the side.

"I'm sure he's been talking to the guys behind the scenes, he always does, he's good like that," he said.

The day's closest-fought match, between the USA and Spain, saw the Eagles take a 15-14 win in the Pool C contest.

Along with Australia's whipping of Hong Kong in Pool A, Samoa shut out New Zealand, winning 24-0.

Great Britain drew a blank against France in the Pool B matches, going down 34-0, while South Africa beat Uruguay 21-0.

In Pool D, Canada fell to Argentina, and Ireland beat Kenya 28-12, in the opening game.

leg/mca