Hamilton Sevens: Black Ferns, All Blacks open bids for hometown crowns

New Zealand men and women have emerged unscathed from the opening day of the Hamilton Sevens, as they chase victory in their home leg of the world series.

Confronted with a new cut-throat format that rewards only pool winners with semi-final spots, the All Blacks Sevens kept their hopes alive with wins over Wales and United States.

They were imperious in their opening encounter, barely allowing the Welsh a sniff of the ball in a 47-0 romp.

Tim Mikkelson ran away for two of their seven tries, with Regan Ware, Joe Webber, Scott Curry, Kurt Baker and Vilimomoni Koroi also crossing.

After finishing runners-up on the 2018/19 circuit, the Americans posed a far greater challenge, but never led, after NZ captain Curry crossed for the opening try, converted by Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, in the second minute.

Speedster Perry Baker kept the US in the hunt, but further tries to Baker, Mikkelson and Sam Dickson carried the All Blacks clear 26-5.

New Zealand's chances of retaining their top world ranking received a massive boost, when co-leaders South Africa fell 21-19 to England and now need results to go their way, if they are to make Sunday's semis.   

Meanwhile, the Black Ferns also showed their class, with identical 40-7 scorelines against China and England in their pool.

They quickly climbed on top of China in their opener, with Michael Blyde and Stacey Fluhler (formerly Waaka) striking quickly after the start.

China responded with a try before the break, but had no answer for the world series leaders, who piled on four more unanswered tries - including a second for Fluhler - to prevail 40-7.

The NZ women virtually sealed their semi spot against England later in the afternoon, with Blyde scoring four first-half tries, before she was subbed off at the break.

The flyer had been sidelined since November with a leg stress fracture, but showed no signs of her slowing down in her return to the national sevens programme.

China upset a short-handed Fiji 17-12 with a late try, reducing all New Zealand's pool opponents to one-win/one-loss records, with another round to complete on Sunday.

The Black Ferns face the Fijians on Sunday morning, with pool winners and the best second-placed team progressing to semis.