Rio Olympics 2016: New Zealand men's sevens team stunned by Japan, beat Kenya
New Zealand's horror day in rugby at the Rio Olympics has a silver lining, with the gold medal remaining a faint possibility after a thumping win over Kenya.
After a first up loss to Japan, and a serious, tournament ending injury to Sonny Bill Williams, New Zealand rebounded to defeat Kenya 28-5 in their second pool match at the Deodora Stadium.
The victory keeps New Zealand hopes alive in Pool C, and a faint chance to still top the pool ahead of Great Britain, who they play on day two.
Ironically, after the New Zealand women were shafted by a poor refereeing call in the final against Australia, their male counterparts benefited from a soft penalty try call against Kenya.
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Collins Injera got Kenya off to a blistering start. The World Rugby Sevens Series' all time leading try scorer sprinted 60m to open the scoring less than a minute into the encounter.
But Injera was then sent to the bin for a head-high tackle on Scott Curry as the New Zealand captain attempted to dive for the line. Curry was falling into the tackle and then spilled the ball, but the referee decided it was a dangerous tackle, awarding a penalty try as well as the yellow card.
Akira Ioane added to the score with Kenya down a man, New Zealand stretching the pitch wide to find plenty of open space.
The elder Ioane brother crossed again in the second half but couldn't ground the ball, losing possession as Injera made a try saving tackle.
Augustine Pulu scored from the resulting 5m scrum, finding a gap after Rieko Ioane was dragged down short of the line.
From there New Zealand were able to make sure of the victory, slowing the play as fresh legs came onto the field.
Lewis Ormond scored late to add polish to the scoreline.
SHOCK LOSS TO JAPAN
Disaster struck in the opening match as New Zealand were defeated 14-12 by Japan, their first ever loss to the Asian side.
When Japan played their first World Series match two years ago, New Zealand thumped the team by more than 60 points.
But the centralised Japanese programme, and 11 of the 12 players who started that World Series debut on the Gold Coast, has seen them consistently improve.
Japan out hustled the third-seeded New Zealanders throughout the match, taking an early lead through Teruya Goto.
Scott Curry and Akira Ioane struck back for New Zealand to hand them a lead, but a try scored with a minute remaining gave Japan a famous victory.
It was well deserved for the Asian champions, as New Zealand's handling and lack of possession proved costly.
New Zealand play Great Britain on Thursday morning (NZ time), with New Zealand requiring a big win over the Brits to claim top spot in the pool.
Great Britain had opened strongly in the Kiwis' pool with a 31-7 win over Kenya, then edged Japan in a thriller, surviving a late Japanese try for a 21-19 win.
There were shock results elsewhere with France belting Australia 31-14 in their Pool B opener and Argentina edging the highly regarded USA team 17-14 in Group A.
Title favourites Fiji conceded an early try to Brazil but ran out 40-12 winners in their opening game.
New Zealand, frontrunners in the men's and women's sevens for so long, suffered a setback on Tuesday (NZ time) when the women lost the gold medal match to Australia, having to settle for silver.
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