Oceania dominating in Kuala Lumpur
April 21, 2001

The Oceania Sevens triumvirate of New Zealand, Australia and Fiji marched into the Cup quarterfinals of the Malaysia Sevens on Saturday, brushing aside would-be challengers without a hitch.

However, Samoa had to settle for a 5-5 draw with South Africa in Pool D and must now play neighbours Fiji on Sunday after finishing behind the Springboks on points difference.

Glen Ella's Australia, coming off their triumph in Shanghai a fortnight ago, waltzed through Pool B at Petaling Jaya Stadium without conceding a point, despatching France 14-0, Taiwan 55-0 and finally Canada 29-0.

"The game against France was pretty tough," Ella said. "Only one try in each half - I think our defence was average and we lost our composure a bit."

Skipper Richard Graham and winger Matt Dowling scored the vital tries, but against Taiwan eight different players managed to get on the scoresheet. "The boys were back to their best against Canada," Ella said. "But our main weakness today was speed, so we'll have to improve on that."

New Zealand, who currently lead the International Rugby Board World Sevens Series table, racked up the highest score of the day in their 61-0 win over Malaysia, but found stiff opposition in Wales before pulling through 19-5.

The Welsh, who lost in the Plate final to the United States in Hong Kong last month then to Canada in the Bowl final in Shanghai, got the better of England 24-14 and face Australia in the Cup quarterfinals.

Kiwi coach Gordon Tietjens, though happy overall after a disappointing tournament in Shanghai, said his team needs to improve their scrum.

Looking ominously like their old selves were Fiji. Without a tournament win in more than a year, Fiji are doing their best to re-build their once unbeatable reputation, and showed promise on Saturday with comfortable wins over South Korea and Argentina, both by a score of 33-7.

Super speedster Rupeni Caucau jogged in for two tries in each of Fiji's three matches, while Fero Lasagavibau picked up five for the day, including four in the 52-0 win against Thailand.

Coach Tomasi Cama, still under pressure back home, was naturally happy with the performance, saying that his players are now doing what he wants them to do, but they still had to cut down on the mistakes.

Both Tietjens and Ella remarked on Fiji's performance, with Tietjens admitting it was "good to see them back on track. Fiji played outstandingly today," he added. "They spread the ball out wide and used the length of the field."

Also in Pool C, Argentina defeated South Korea 26-14 to avenge the quarterfinal loss in Shanghai.

While in pool D, South Africa whitewashed Singapore 37-0, then Japan 50-0 before holding on for the draw against Samoa. The Springboks face Argentina in Sunday's quarters, while New Zealand play France.

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