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New Zealand and Samoa top Pool A after Friday's efforts at the 2012 USA 7s in Las Vegas.
New Zealand entered Sam Boyd Stadium as night fell and the lights became a little brighter. Even the sky turned all black for them. Led by some dazzling play from Tomasi Cama, the New Zealander took it straight to the green-clad Australians. Lote Raikabula was set free for the opening try, and Mark Jackman capped off a concerted period of New Zealand pressure. Only the dogged hitting of the Austrlia defense kept it closer.
Cama torched Australia twice and then Jackman claimed his second to end the rivalry match 31-5. Australia, for all their quality, were never in it.
In the second match of Pool A, 2010 USA 7s champs Samoa took on Japan, always a crowd favorite. The Japanese were hoping to catch Samoa napping, but a couple of steamrolling runs by the cinder-block-like Alafoti Faosiliva got Samoa on the front foot.
Faosiliva scored Samoa’s first and set the platform for their second. The physicality of Samoa was too much and Japan just couldn’t keep the ball in contact. Samoa 33 Japan 0.
In the second round, things didn’t get any easier for the Cherry Blossoms, as they faced New Zealand. The Japanese pinned New Zealand in their 22 early, but the Kiwis were patient and eventually set up ?? for a long-range try, and off they went. Japan did, however, score a deserved try in the corner, earning a big cheer.
Samoa, meanwhile, had to take on a stung Australia. The Samoa team started out brilliantly, and then took a break in the middle where they seemed to loosen their grip on the match. Australia took a 10-5 lead in the second half only to see Samoa rebound with two tries – both won through their physicality in the breakdown or scrum.
Australia’s youngsters mounted a comeback, but they didn’t quite have enough time. 19-15 Samoa, and a thrilling winner-take-all set for Saturday.
New Zealand 31
Tries: Cama 2, Jackman 2, Raikabula
Convs: Cama 3
Tries: Aiono 2, Faosiliva, Perez, Iosefo
Convs: Mai 3, Lui
New Zealand 42
Tries: Halai 2, Malo 2, Savea, Jackman
Convs: Jackman 5, Raikabula
Tries: Aiono, Autagavaia, Levasa
Convs: Lui 2
Tries: Fou 2, McMahon