Fiji storm into semis as New Zealand stumble

Rob Woollard
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Josua Tuisova (L) of Fiji scores a try as he is chased by Lautaro Bazan Velez of Argentina during their Championships quarter finals game at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco

Fiji stormed into the semi-finals of the World Cup Sevens here Saturday with a scintillating display as holders New Zealand survived a scare to stumble into the last four.

Olympic champions Fiji underscored their status as tournament favourites with a 43-7 defeat of Argentina to advance into a last four meeting with New Zealand on Sunday.

The Fijians had the crowd at San Francisco's AT&T Park roaring their appreciation with some trademark wizardry as they ran in seven tries against the overwhelmed Pumas.

France-based star Semi Radradra was at the heart of much of the action, jinking and feinting brilliantly to help set up Fiji's opening score for Kalione Nasoko.

Paula Dranisinukula, Josua Tuisova, Alasio Naduva, Leone Nakarawa and Amenoni Nasilasila (2) were the other scorers.

"When a Fijian team gets that sort of momentum they're very difficult to beat," said Fiji's coach Gareth Baber.

"We've worked it well and the players have delivered what they needed to today," said Baber.

New Zealand, meanwhile, were anything but impressive as they scraped past France 12-7 to progress.

France, who had upset Australia in the previous round, led 7-0 at half-time against an undisciplined New Zealand side who saw two players sin-binned in the first seven minutes.

The French took the lead when Tavite Veredamu fed Paulin Riva to score near the posts.

New Zealand fought back strongly in the second half though and cut off France's possession before taking the lead through tries from Kurt Baker and Joe Ravouvou.

"We're pretty frustrated with the way we played, but knockout footy, who cares? We managed to find a way to win," said New Zealand coach Clark Laidlaw.

"To play more or less a full half with only six players shows the character of the team."

Laidlaw's men are now eyeing another battle with Fiji.

"They've got a lot of rock stars in their team so they're the form team," Laidlaw said.

"But we won't play as bad as that again, so we'll come back tomorrow and see how we go," the Scotsman added.

In the other half of the draw, England wrecked the United States' dreams of a fairytale victory on home soil with a thrilling 24-19 win in sudden death extra time.

US captain Madison Hughes delighted the home crowd with an early score to give the hosts the lead but England hit back through two tries from record tryscorer Dan Norton to make it 12-7 at the break.

Oliver Lindsay-Hague then scored straight from the kick-off to stretch England's lead to 19-7 before the Eagles staged a gutsy fightback.

Folau Niua scored first to make it 19-12, and then Perry Baker jinked over from just outside the 22 to score near the posts and make it 19-19 and send the game to extra-time.

But just when it looked as if momentum had swung to the hosts, England carved out an opportunistic try when England captain Tom Mitchell's exquisite cross-kick picked out Phil Burgess for the winning score.

England will face top seeds South Africa in the last four after the Blitzboks trounced Scotland 36-5.

South Africa, who have never won the World Cup, outclassed the Scots with another clinical performance.

Werner Kok started the rout after crashing through two Scottish tackles to open the scoring early in the first half. Kok then capitalised on deft footwork from fly-half Selvyn Davids to make it 12-0 shortly afterwards.

South Africa added further scores from Justin Geduld (2), Siviwe Soyizwapi and Ruhan Nel to seal an emphatic win.