Australia sevens men ease to Hong Kong win

Fri, Nov 4, 2022, 10:23 PM
AAP
by AAP
The Men's Sevens got off to a perfect start in Hong Kong. Photo: World Rugby/Mike Lee
The Men's Sevens got off to a perfect start in Hong Kong. Photo: World Rugby/Mike Lee

Australia's rugby men have eased into the defence of their world series title with an emphatic first-day win over the hosts as the Hong Kong Sevens made a welcome, noisy return to the global circuit.

The champions proved party poopers in front of a 24,000 crowd on Friday night as they crushed the home team 43-0 in their group match, their seven-try demolition job ending the first of three days of action in the 2022-23 series' opening event.

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Dietrich Roache, the series' leading points scorer in the Australians' last triumphant campaign, carried on where he left off, scooting over for two tries in the space of the first three minutes against the hosts' invitation team.

Nick Malouf added another to extend the lead to 17-0 at halftime, before Josh Turner chipped in with a double and debutant Kye Oates came off the bench to score the pick of the bunch after a mesmerising team move.

Henry Paterson ran in the seventh to give the Aussies the perfect opportunity to get rid of the ring rust as they set out on their quest to defend the season-long title they sealed with victory in the Los Angeles Sevens in August.  

That victorious journey, though, didn't take in the Hong Kong Sevens, traditionally the series' marquee event, as it had to be cancelled for a second successive year because of the COVID pandemic.

But back on the calendar for the first time since 2019, the crowds flocked to Hong Kong Stadium on Friday for the event the Australians are seeking to annex for the first time since 1988.

The first of 11 tournaments in this season's series, with the top four teams ending up with automatic qualification for the Paris Olympics, opened with an early surprise as Samoa hammered New Zealand 24-0 in pool A.

The New Zealanders will be under pressure when they meet Australia in their group on Saturday.

Fiji, though, looked ominously comfortable as they set out for a sixth straight Hong Kong title, earning a consummate 59-12 win over Japan.

The popular event saw hundreds of fans, some in fancy dress and superhero costumes, gathering for the event. 

Wearing masks was mandatory but some ignored that ruling amid the music, fireworks and entertaining rugby on the field.

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