HONG KONG – Fiji got their campaign for a record fourth straight title at the Hong Kong Sevens underway with a 31-12 victory over Samoa on Friday night.
The win was – as it always seems to be with the 2016 Rio gold medallists – built on plenty of dash out wide and lots of strength through the middle of the park.
The Islanders were led by the impressive Amenoni Nasilasila who added two conversions to a second-half try that came via a cross-field dash, bringing the Hong Kong Stadium to its feet.
“I was pleased with what we delivered, about the pace and the power of our game”, said Fiji coach Gareth Baber afterwards. “I thought we could have been a bit tidier at times when we didn't have the ball but it's the first game –- and it's a win.”
Fiji are at full strength for the seventh leg of this year's World Rugby Sevens Series.
But with the rugby sevens competition at the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast due to be contested next weekend, series leaders South Africa and a number of other teams have arrived in Hong Kong with development squads made up of young players rather than their regular stars.
It didn't seem to affect the South Africans on Friday night but their first game was a 45-0 victory over a South Korean team only making a guest appearance on the World Series.
More will be known about their chances here after the South Africans' pool clashes against Scotland and then England on Saturday.
The USA are another side at full strength as they look to build on a season that has already seen them break-through for their first-ever title at their home leg of the World Series, in Las Vegas at the start of March.
The Eagles faced what had appeared on paper to be a tricky opening test against France on Friday and it ran according to that script, with a last-second try from winger Carlin Isles levelling the scores at 24 apiece -– and saving the Americans' blushes.
“We didn't make life easy for ourselves but we're still in it,” said USA coach Mike Friday.