US upsets New Zealand to make Dubai 7s rugby quarterfinals
Garrett Bender, supported by Folau Niua of the US, takes the high ball in the Pool C match against New Zealand during the first day of the Sevens World Series rugby tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen Hindley)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United States beat New Zealand for the first time in the World Rugby Sevens series, winning 14-12 Friday to reach the quarterfinals in Dubai on points difference.
New Zealand came from 5-0 down early to lead 12-7 just after halftime and looked set to hold out the Americans, who had to win to jump over France and finish second to the Kiwis in Pool C.
Perry Baker scored the opening try and missed a second in the second half when he couldn't hold on to the ball after scooping it up near the tryline. But in the last minute, he beat two defenders on the outside to level the score. Madison Hughes made the conversion from the left touchline for the win, which moved the Americans ahead of France on points difference by two.
The Americans' reward is to face defending champion South Africa in the quarters on Saturday.
The others are Fiji vs. Australia, England vs. Argentina, and New Zealand vs. Samoa.
South Africa took apart Samoa 33-7, Russia 45-0, and Scotland 26-12, with Seabelo Senatla scoring six of their 16 tries.
Series champion Fiji was impressive against Canada (63-14) and Argentina (28-0), but blew a 14-0 halftime lead against Japan. The Japanese stormed 17-14 ahead with moments left, only to see Fiji's Savenaca Rawaca score the late 21-17 converted winner.
England and Australia reached their pool-deciding final match of the day unbeaten after wins over Wales and Kenya, and England, a four-time winner in Dubai, was always in control in a 21-5 win.