GOLD COAST — Defending international rugby sevens series champions New Zealand have made a solid, if unspectacular, start to this weekend's tournament on the Gold Coast by defeating the US 19-7.
The Kiwis were given a tough battle by the Americans, eventually prevailing by three tries to one in the pool D opener.
Experienced Mark Jackman scored two first half tries for New Zealand to establish a 14-0 lead before former track runner Carlin Isles scored a breakaway try at the start of the second half for the US.
New Zealand instantly replied through debutant Gareth Williams-Spiers, who shrugged off a defender to score the game's final points. Another first-gamer, Warwick Lahmert, said the Americans deserved credit for not letting Gordon Tietjens' men settle into their normal style.
"First game up they came out to play a good game of sevens and they held on to the ball quite a lot in that first half and in the second half stopped us from the attacking rugby we like to play," Lahmert said.