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England shocks South Africa at New Zealand Sevens

HAMILTON, New Zealand (AP) England shocked three-time world champion South Africa 21-19 to remain unbeaten after the first day of pool play Saturday at the New Zealand leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.

Dan Norton, Tom Bowen and Phil Burgess scored tries as England rallied to beat the Blitzboks and claim top spot in Pool B, joining host New Zealand and Olympic champion Fiji among unbeaten teams after day one.

The New Zealand tournament is being played under a different format than others on the world sevens circuit, to accommodate a women's tournament for the first time.

Usually the top two teams in each pool advance to quarterfinals but in Hamilton the top team in each pool after Sunday's final round of pool matches will go directly to the semifinals while the other teams will play off for fifth place and below.

New Zealand and South Africa sit atop the series standings with 41 points each after two rounds. South Africa won the opening round in Dubai from New Zealand while New Zealand won the second round in Cape Town where South Africa was runner-up.

England currently is in fifth in the world series and it's win over South Africa was the main upset of the first day.

"Looking back at Cape Town and Dubai we've had a lot of waves and some ups and downs," Norton said. "But (there was) great endeavor, great effort from the guys today.

"It's just one of those games against the top four teams and we love playing them."

Defending series champion Fiji sits atop Pool D after narrow wins over Australia and Samoa and will play Argentina in the last round of pool matches Sunday.

New Zealand had an impressive first day, beating Wales 47-0 and last season's World Series runner-up the United States 26-5.


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Updated January 25, 2020