Fiji knocks Samoa out of Dubai playoffs contention

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -Fiji beat Samoa 31-14 in an ill-tempered match to knock out its South Pacific neighbor from playoffs contention in Dubai Sevens rugby on Friday.

Fiji, the world series pacesetter after winning the opening tournament on the Gold Coast last weekend, topped Pool A and earned a quarterfinal on Saturday against Australia.

Argentina replaced Samoa in the quarterfinals in the only change from the Gold Coast playoffs, and it will meet Pool D winner Wales. South Africa finished the day by beating a sloppy New Zealand 21-5 for Pool B honors to set up a quarter with France, and England downed France 29-12 for the Pool C prize to earn a match with New Zealand.

Fiji and Samoa each had a player sent off. Samoa's Uale Mai, sin-binned in the first half, was ejected late in the second half with Fiji substitute Sitiveni Waqa. Less than a minute later, Semi Radradra was sin-binned, reducing Fiji to five men. By then, Fiji was assured of victory.

Fiji led 17-0 at halftime and 31-0 within 11 minutes after a pair of tries by Joeli Lutumailagi, who has a tournament-leading six.

"It is always like that (physical) with our Pacific neighbors, we love our rugby,'' Fiji coach Alifereti Dere said.

Fiji also beat Argentina 40-7 and the United Arab Emirates, making its debut, 43-0.

Samoa's hopes were dashed by Argentina. Samoa came back from 21-7 down to lead 28-21 with seconds left until Agustin Migliore scored a late try with a tying conversion from Gonzalo Gutierrez. In the end, Argentina advanced ahead of Samoa on points difference.

South Africa accounted for Portugal and the U.S. and jumped to 14-0 against New Zealand and held on.

"I think we started a bit slowly but we picked it up quite nicely,'' South Africa coach Paul Treu said. "This game tonight against New Zealand can give these guys some good memories and we can go into the second day with so much confidence.''

England beat Zimbabwe, Kenya and France, and will look to avenge on Saturday its loss to New Zealand in the quarterfinals last weekend.

"We're getting slowly better,'' England coach Ben Ryan said. "There are still parts of our side where we lose ourselves a little bit. Very good sides might punish us. When we keep ball for a decent amount of time we are threatening everywhere. That is key for us.''

Wales scrambled through its pool, only beating Scotland 14-7 and Canada 15-12 before overwhelming Australia with three unanswered converted tries in the second half, two of them to Richard Smith.


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