Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
With just eight pool matches played in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on day one, it was Dan Norton who grabbed the headlines as he surpassed Collins Injera to become the new all-time leading sevens series try-scorer in Hong Kong.
Norton's try kick-started a significant English comeback against their old rivals Wales. Despite holding a 15-game sevens series winning streak over Wales, they went into half-time 19-5 down. Norton crossed one minute into the second half and England then dominated to secure a 29-19 victory.
The ten-point win sets Simon Amor's team on the right track and they will be well-aware of the importance of going as far as possible in Hong Kong with just a few rounds remaining after this one. At the end of the 2019 series the top four teams will qualify directly for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. England are Team GB's designated qualifying outfit, and with just 33 points separating the top five teams going into this seventh stage it's all to play for.
Elsewhere in Pool D it was a straightforward first victory for the world series leaders the USA. The side held a 22-0 cushion over Spain after seven minutes and turned that into a 36-7 victory. Mike Friday's outfit look well-set to commence day two strongly against Wales before meeting England.
From the moment that it was drawn, Pool C - Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Kenya - had everyone gripped and it did not disappoint. A Trans-Tasman clash saw New Zealand convert a 21-14 half-time lead into a 40-19 victory. The Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018 winners flew and Joe Webber marked his return from a year out by scoring the last of their six tries.
New Zealand and Australia join together in solidarity at the #HK7s, as a mark of respect and rememberance to those who lost their lives in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 March. pic.twitter.com/7XoVBBKg9Y— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 5, 2019
Gareth Baber's outfit, who currently sit third in the overall world series standings, commenced their quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive victory in Hong Kong in hypnotic form. In a rematch of last year's Cup Final against Kenya, they scored three tries in the first five minutes by offloading and keeping the ball alive beautifully. Fiji held a 17-0 lead at the break and despite their opponents getting a try back, the reigning champions finished the job 22-5.
Argentina and the Vancouver silver medallists, France, both opened their Pool B accounts on the right note. While in Pool A, the winners in Vancouver and the defending HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series champions, South Africa, were given a small early care. They trailed 7-5 to Japan but turned it around after the interval through 17 unanswered points to prevail 22-7. Elsewhere in the pool, Samoa showed greater precision than their opponents Scotland to secure a 17-7 triumph.