Cardiff 7s - Day One
May 31, 2002

Wales suffered an embarrassing defeat on home soil to Russia in the opening round of games in the final round of the World Sevens Serie sin Cardiff.

Wales completed the first round of tackling their Pool D rivals and they were rocked by early tries from Sergei Kuzmenko and Pavel Baranovski.

And it went from bad to worse for the Welsh, despite strong home support, as Alexei Ianpoloski claimed Russia's third try for a 15-0 interval lead.

Wales were in danger of suffering acute embarrassment, and Emyr Lewis opened their account through a touchdown that Arwel Thomas converted, but Russia were determined not to let things slip.

Wales substitute Craig Richards knocked the ball on following a kick and chase that took him to Russia's line, but from the resulting scrum, Gareth Baber caught Russia's defence napping and grabbed an opportunist try.

Any hopes of a comeback were immediately dispelled though, with Andrei Kouzin darting away for another try, which was converted, to give Russia a stunning 22-12 win and record the tournament's biggest shock so far.

England made a winning start to the Emirates Airline Cardiff Sevens on Friday - but they had to overhaul an interval deficit against France at the Millennium Stadium.

The Pool B favourites fielded three senior internationals - captain Phil Greening and the Harlequins pair of Nick Duncombe and Pat Sanderson - in their opening group game.

But England quickly fell behind to a Sylvain Mottet try, converted by Frederic Benezech.

Although Saracens wing Richard Haughton reduced the arrears through a well-worked score created by Ben Gollings, France still enjoyed a surprise 7-5 lead at half-time.

That advantage lasted barely 30 seconds after the break, though, as England substitute Michael Stephenson sprinted over for a try, yet France continued to make life difficult.

There was no more scoring, though, and England - looking devoid of ideas without unavailable talisman Henry Paul - held on for a 10-7 victory.

New Zealand, who had already captured the overall International Rugby Board series crown after winning six out of 10 tournaments, made a blistering start by crushing Scotland 48-0 in this competition opener.

It was a stroll in the Cardiff sunshine for Eric Rush and his team, as they scored eight tries and served immediate notice of their title aspirations.

Ireland fared much better than Scotland, also in Pool A, but were pipped 14-12 by Argentina.

Breakaway tries from James Ferris and Aidan Kearney, with Paddy Wallace kicking one conversion, put Ireland on course for a surprise win, but Argentina preserved a two-point interval advantage to triumph.

New Zealand's fellow heavyweights South Africa were rocked by an early Georgia try, Tedore Zibzibadze touching down.

But any hint of an upset was quickly dispelled as the Pool C favourites found overdrive and ran out 33-12 victors.

Samoa struggled past Spain 21-7, suggesting that South Africa should encounter few problems topping their group ahead of tomorrow's knockout stages, but there was nothing stop-start about Fiji.

The South Sea Islanders, joint third with England in the overall IRB sevens rankings, went into action minus playmaker Waisale Serevi against Pool D opponents Canada, yet his absence did not affect them.

The Canadians included former Leicester wing Dave Lougheed, and they were briefly in touch at 21-12 adrift before Fiji pulled away with two more tries to chalk up a 33-12 success.

Australia, Fiji's main group threat, were given a major fright by minnows Portugal.

Despite early tries from Peter Miller and Tim O'Brien, Australia almost blew a comfortable lead as Portugal hit them with two late touchdowns and then pressed for the clincher, but Australia held on to win 22-19.

Ireland at least had the satisfaction of breaching New Zealand's defence twice in their Pool A clash, Paddy Wallace and Fiachra Baynes going over for tries, but they could not prevent the tournament favourites notching eight touchdowns.

Amasio Valence (2), Nick Evans, Dallas Seymour, Craig De Goldi, Anthony Tuitavake, Brad Fleming and Josh Blackie all scored as New Zealand triumphed 50-14 and made it 98 points in just two games.

Scotland knew they had to beat Argentina in their quest for a quarter-final place, and an outstanding first-half display saw them post a 19-0 interval advantage.

South Africa-born Scottish international Roland Reid led the way, scoring two early tries, while Mark Lee also sprinted over, leaving Argentina facing a mountainous task.

The South Americans clawed their way back to 19-14 adrift - and had a try disallowed - but the Scots dug deep when it mattered, and Scott Patterson's late try, converted by Graeme Kiddie, secured an impressive 26-14 success.

South Africa preserved their unbeaten Pool C record by swamping Spain 42-5, the win setting up a group decider against Samoa later today after the South Sea Islanders saw off Georgia 34-0.

Emirates Airline Cardiff Sevens quarter-finals: New Zealand v France, Australia v Samoa, South Africa v Fiji, England v Scotland.

Bowl quarter-finals: Argentina v Wales, Canada v Spain, Georgia v Portugal, Russia v Ireland.

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