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New Zealand on track for Las Vegas title

Last updated 16:47 26/01/2014

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New Zealand remain on track to break their Las Vegas sevens title drought after thrashing England 24-7 in the quarter finals.

Coach Gordon Tietjens team will play Canada tomorrow for a place in the final, while South Africa and Samoa will meet in the other semifinal.

Former Blues wing Waisake Naholo was the star for the Kiwis with a hattrick of tries against England to punctuate a successful day for the IRB world series leaders.

New Zealand will be heavily favoured against a Canadian team that reached a Cup semifinal for the first time in 14 years with a 17-14 win over France.

Samoa advanced to the final four with a nail-biting 12-10 win over Australia, while South Africa were far too good for Argentina in a 36-0 whitewash.

New Zealand will be down one player for their semifinal on the third and final day at Sam Boyd Stadium after George Tilsey was suspended for two-matches for a tip tackle during their final pool win against Fiji.

The Kiwis had earlier ground out a tough 12-7 win to dump Fiji out of the tournament, but looked to be hitting their straps against England.

Naholo scored twice either end of the first half with Tim Mikkelson adding a third in the middle stages and Gillies Kaka kicking two conversions to give his side a comfortable halftime buffer.

Naholo got his hattrick early in the second half and though Tom Powell responded for England the result was never in doubt.
Earlier, New Zealand had topped Pool B when they overcame a desperate Fiji, who needed a win to remain in the Cup draw.

The result was a tense scoreless second half after first half tries to Kaka and Naholo had given the Kiwis a 12-7 halftime lead.

It was a huge turnaround and a dose of revenge considering New Zealand had lost 44-0 to Fiji last time the side's met in Dubai.
New Zealand made a strong start when Kaka won the race to his own kick ahead for a 5-0 lead, but he couldn't convert his own try.

Fiji replied immediately from the restart with Emosi Mulevoro's converted try giving them a 7-5 lead, which they held until the final play of the first half.

Naholo stole back the lead with Kaka's conversion the last scoring play of the match as both sides defended stoutly to the final whistle.

Fiji had needed to win after losing 22-21 by Australia in their second pool match.

Defending champions South Africa also look ominous. They knocked out Kenya with a 19-7 win in the final match in Pool A before making short work of Argentina.

Hosts USA's 31-10 win over Spain in Pool D wasn't enough to get them through to the Cup round and they lost narrowly, 12-7 to Wales in the bowl quarterfinal.

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New Zealand, who chasing their first Vegas victory since 2008, beat Australia (31-7) and Scotland (26-5) on day one in what is the fourth tournament of the IRB's world series circuit.

Semifinal scoreboard:

New Zealand (Waisake Naholo 3, Tim Mikkelson tries, Gillies Kaka 2 cons) England 7 (Tom Powell try, Dan Bibby con). HT: 19-0.

- Fairfax Media

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