Samoa top 'pool of death' at Hong Kong Rugby Sevens

Samoa dominated the "pool of death" at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens on Saturday, beating Australia and the hosts to barrel their way into the next round.

The Pacific islanders saw off the reigning World Sevens Series champions in a 22-17 thriller, thanks in part to two tries from Vaa Apelu Maliko, a day after stunning New Zealand 24-0.

"That’s what we were aiming for, to lead the group," said Samoa coach Brian Lima.

"We're feeling good that we made it to the quarter-final."

Lima's side will face Argentina in the next round on Sunday, a match that he flagged as a physical clash.

"Argentina are always – always – a physical team," he added. "So it's a big game tomorrow, it's not that easy. It's all about the mental."

Asked if his side, firmly established as one of the competition's in-form outfits, could win the tournament, he insisted they would take it "one game at a time".

Elsewhere in Pool A, Hong Kong got their first tries of the weekend, Salom Yiu and Seb Brien getting it over the line in a 36-14 defeat by New Zealand. Akuila Rokolisoa supplied a try and two conversions for the Kiwis.

Samoa made sure of top spot in the late match, with a 31-15 win over Hong Kong - Maliko getting four more tries – though the home side made them sweat for it, getting it back to 12-10 in the first half and keeping the tries coming in the second.

Australia beat New Zealand 24-17 in Saturday's final game, eliminating the Kiwis and keeping their own hopes for the cup alive.

The action was backdropped by half-empty stands, as the city's strict pandemic rules continue to dampen enthusiasm from local and especially international fans.

Spectators have to wear masks and provide a negative Covid test to get into the stadium, and overseas visitors cannot enter any public venues during their first three days in the city.

On the field, crowd favourites Fiji topped their group, dispatching Spain and the USA to ensure progress from Pool C, along with the Eagles, who will play France.

In the earlier matches, Great Britain upset South Africa 12-10 in Pool B. South Africa later lost to France, 19-17, but remain in contention for the cup and face Fiji in the quarter-finals.

Ireland topped Pool D, winning all of their games, sealed with a 21-17 win over Argentina. They face Australia in the quarter-finals.

leg/aha