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Rusty NZ set up Australian quarter-final
20:35 AEST Fri Feb 1 2013

A rattled New Zealand limped into the quarter-finals of the world sevens rugby series tournament in Wellington where a lethal-looking Australia await.

On a day when Fiji failed to reach the Cup playoffs at an International Rugby Board tournament for the first time, New Zealand very nearly went the same way before scraping past the United States 17-10 in their final match.

Having lost 19-14 to England, the series leaders and defending champions couldn't afford to drop another pool A match on Friday.

They hammered Spain 36-5 but had to scramble against the game US who led 5-0 early on through a try to Nick Edwards and trailed just 7-5 at halftime after Tomasi Cama responded for the hosts.

The errors disappeared as Ben Lam and Cama pushed New Zealand clear but Zach Test crossed in the closing minutes to make for a tension-filled finish.

New Zealand lost star back Kurt Baker to a hamstring injury which will sideline him from the second day.

They will also need to improve considerably to overcome a youthful Australian side who have struggled for form this season yet thumped Portugal and Scotland and stunned Fiji 21-12 in pool D.

The error-plagued Fijians were also upset 14-12 by Scotland and will play off for the minor silverware on Saturday for the first time.

Second-placed Scotland's quarterfinal opponents are England, who halted a terrible run of form with their defeat of New Zealand.

On the other side of the draw, Kenya and Samoa won all three matches in competitive pools.

Kenya were athletic and pacy in beating Argentina, France and Tonga in pool D. The South Americans finished second courtesy of a last-minute 17-14 defeat of France, who were second in the series standings coming in.

Pool C opponents South Africa, Wales and Canada couldn't match Samoa and each finished with one win. South Africa advanced to face Kenya in the quarterfinals courtesy of the best points differential.


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