London – New Zealand began their quest to wrap up a 10th Sevens World Series title in 13 years with a 49-7 thrashing of Russia in their opening match of the final leg of the championship at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Kiwis arrived in London with an 11-point lead in the standings over second-placed Fiji.
But while Gordon Tietjens's team may have one hand on the trophy, they showed their determination not to leave anything to chance by running in seven tries against Russia, hosts of next year's World Cup Sevens.
Tomasi Cama and Frank Halai, both nominated for the IRB Sevens Player of the Year award, ran in two tries apiece.
Fiji meanwhile started with a 19-5 victory over Spain while England kicked off with a 28-0 win against France, with wing Dan Norton scoring his 36th try of the season – the most by any England player in the 13-year history of the Sevens World Series
Samoa, who are just one point behind fourth-placed South Africa in the overall standings following last week's tournament in Glasgow, saw Tom Iosefo score the first-hat-trick of the London event in a 31-17 victory over the United States in a match where the scores had been locked at 17-17.
Defending London champions South Africa, the only side in the top six of the standings who have so far not won one of the nine tournaments that make up the World Series, scored seven tries in a 41-0 win against Portugal, Jamba Ulengo and Steven Hunt both scoring two tries each.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Sevens champions Australia defeated Scotland 27-12, with captain Ed Jenkins and Damon Anderson grabbing try doubles. – Sapa-AFP