There was thrilling rugby and sensational tries as Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 began at Cape Town Stadium on Friday with all 40 competing teams in action on a pulsating first day of play.
The winner-takes-all knockout format leaves no room for error, but the tournament favourites in both events stood up to the pressure well.
In the Women's event Australia, Fiji and New Zealand all claimed convincing wins on day one whilst Samoa will join their male counterparts in the quarterfinals one day two.
SEE ALL THE RESULTS OF MATCH DAY 1
Tonga were unsuccessful aginst Kenya and head into day two looking for their first win of the weekend.
ALL BLACKS MAKE STRONG START IN MEN'S EVENT & SAMOA THRASH EAGLES
New Zealand got their bid for a fourth World Cup victory off to a perfect start as they put Scotland to the sword, running in seven tries in a 43-5 win.
Amanaki Nicole powered over the line twice, either side of a Ngarohi McGarvey-Black score, before Akuila Rokolisoa strode through a hole in midfield to complete a dominant first half performance.
Lee Jones pulled one back after the restart for the Scots with a well-taken finish on the stretch, but Rokolisoa soon restored the All Blacks’ comfortable lead with a weaving run before adding the extras to take his personal points tally to 16.
Substitutes Lewis Ormond and Caleb Tangitau also got in on the try-scoring action late on as the back-to-back defending champions laid down an imposing marker.
Elsewhere in the men’s event, Samoa underlined their dark horse status with a huge win over sixth seeds USA, as an inspired second half performance saw them rack up a huge 40-12 win.
The match was a hard-fought contest for the first 10 minutes, as Paul Scanlan and Melani Matavao crossed either side of David Still’s try to give the Islanders a lead at the break, before Steve Tomasin’s score reduced the deficit to just two points with four minutes to go.
But the Samoans soon pulled away, turning on the style and swagger to blow away their opponents with four tries in five minutes, including a second for Scanlan and a perfectly executed chip and chase from Vaa Apelu Maliko.
Levi Milford spoke after Samoa's 40-12 win v USA saying "We came out here just to play the game, win and put Samoa on the map and I guess that 40 points is a big statement and puts us on the map really well.
when asked what's been the secret for Manu Samoa's success of of late he added "The secret? Our people and our country just always getting behind us. They are loud, even from back home we hear them. It is crazy, it hits the heart a lot, and just faith."
OCEANIA BIG GUNS FIRE IN WOMEN’S EVENT
Top seed faced bottom seed in the opening game of the women’s tournament as World Series champions Australia ran out 48-0 winners against debutants Madagascar.
The Aussie 7s wasted no time in racking up a comfortable lead, largely thanks to the scintillating form of Faith Nathan, who became the first Australian woman to score five tries in a RWC Sevens match.
Faith Nathan after scoring five tries for Australia against Madagascar said "It feels really good. They were more team tries rather than individual but it feels good [to become first player to score five tries in a RWC Sevens match].
"We play tomorrow night, which is pretty new to us as we're used to playing three games a day or two games a day. So, playing one game a day will be pretty wild but we've got a long break until tomorrow which will be good to prepare."
Maddison Levi also made an impact as the 20-year-old bagged a try of her own before breaking Madagascan hearts with a superb try-saving tackle to deny the Africans a memorable score.
New Zealand made a storming start to their campaign in a David v Goliath clash with tournament debutants Colombia, beating the South Americans 47-5 and scoring seven tries in the process.
The first to cross, inevitably, was the RWC Sevens’ all-time top try scorer Portia Woodman, who notched her 19thtry at this level inside three minutes.
The Black Ferns stretched their lead to 26-0 by half time, Risi Pouri-Lane crossing twice, but there were huge Colombian celebrations when Laura Mejia dotted down their first-ever World Cup try early in the second half.
They were ultimately outclassed, though, as Kelly Brazier also bagged a brace in a clinical performance from the second seeds.
Fiji’s women made an early statement of intent by thrashing Japan 36-7 to underline their status as title contenders and earn their first ever opening match win at a RWC 7s.
Fijiana, who finished third in the 2021/22 World Series, stormed past the 11thseeds as Ana Maria Naimasi scored two of their four tries before half time, then adding and converting another early in the second half to complete a hat-trick.
A sixth try was recorded by Raijieli Daveua, before Japan earned a late consolation score through Yume Hirano.
England got off to a strong start with a 29-5 victory against a Spain side that was expected to put up a much stronger fight against the team seeded one place above them.
DAY TWO SCHEDULE
The quarter-final line up in the 16 strong women’s competition sees Australia v England, New Zealand v Ireland, France v Fiji and USA v Canada.
In the men’s competition the quarter-finals are New Zealand v Argentina, France v Australia, Samoa v Fiji, Ireland v South Africa.
The quarter-finals begin at 19:07 (GMT+2) on Saturday with Australia v England in the women’s championship and continue through to Ireland v South Africa in the men’s competition at 22:33 (GMT+2) which will bring down the curtain on day two.
Rugby sevens fans around the world can watch the action via live stream on www.rwcsevens.com in countries where there is no national broadcaster covering the event.