Hong Kong - Ten-time winner Fiji thrashed China 66-0 Saturday and then beat a surprisingly tough Wales squad 17-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the US$150,000 Credit Suisse First Boston Hong Kong Sevens Rugby tournament.
With veteran playmaker Waisale Serevi pulling the strings in the Pool E matches, the Fijians emerged as favorites to end New Zealand's two-year dominance of the event, the seventh leg of the International Rugby Board's 11-tournament World Sevens Series.
Defending champion New Zealand also easily qualified for the quarterfinals from Pool A while Canada caused the biggest surprise when they defeated group favourite South Africa 19-14 to top Pool B. The Canadians earlier beat the Chinese-Taipei team 12-5.
Samoa, Australia, England, Argentina and Wales completed the quarterfinal lineup for the main Cup competition.
Fiji has added incentive to win the event as a tribute to former teammate Aminiasi Naituyaga, feared drowned after he went missing earlier this month when trying to swim across a river in Fiji.
Naituyaga was a member of Fiji's triumphant World Cup winning squad when the tournament was held in Hong Kong in 1997.
"We want to win it for him," said Serevi, who himself has something to prove after being dropped from last year's team.
The 33-year-old Serevi was brought back into the squad by coach Ratu Kitione Tuibua, who was at the helm when Fiji won three straight titles between 1990 and 1992.
New Zealand beat Portugal 54-0 and Scotland 31-7 on Saturday and will take on Argentina, one of the best second-placed teams from the preliminary competition.
New Zealand captain Eric Rush was rested for the start of the Scotland match, but came at halftime as New Zealand saved its best players for Sunday's all-important knockout phase.
The Argentinians were top seeds in Pool F but were upset 19-5 by England. They advanced to the last eight after their earlier 33-5 win over Japan.
The Canadians set up a quarterfinal meeting against Wales, who despite losing to Fiji, qualified for the Cup as one of the best second-placed teams. Wales earlier beat Singapore 29-7 in Pool E.
Samoa, the 1993 champion, beat Hong Kong 35-7 and the United States 19-5 in their final two games of Pool C.
The Samoans on Sunday face Pool F winner England, which also beat Thailand 33-5.
Australia set up a quarterfinal contest against Fiji after they beat South Korea 33-0 and France 22-0 to win Pool D.
The 24 teams in the preliminary round were divided into six pools, with the winner in each pool, together with the two best second-placed teams, advancing to the Cup tournament. - Sapa-AP