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Australia have booked a quarter-final berth in the Sydney Sevens thanks to a brilliant individual display by Lewis Holland at Allianz Stadium.
Needing to beat Canada to secure their place in Sunday’s Cup knockout stages, backline whiz Holland struck for the Thunderbolts in a 26-12 pool victory.
Cameron Clark was the star of the opening 24-7 win over Portugal, but Holland was even more influential against the Canadians who led 7-5 late in the first half.
With Quade Cooper watching from the sidelines, Holland wrested back control of the match with a 55m solo effort for his second try before setting up Henry Speight after the break.
“We were definitely better in the second game, in the first game we showed our nerves a bit,” said coach Andy Friend. “We were more composed and combative.
“Now we have to make sure we produce our best effort tonight.”
The Thunderbolts play New Zealand in their final pool game with the Kiwis favourites after cruising past Canada (27-12) and Portugal (40-0).
Benched against Canada, Sonny Bill Williams started the second game and took little time to lay on a try to Regan Ware with a signature flick pass.
“I’m just grateful to be in such a great side,” Williams said.
“I’m still learning the ropes but I’m loving the game of sevens at the moment.”
Defending world series champions Fiji have established early tournament favouritism with the most impressive pool displays, thrashing Samoa 31-0 before smashing France 49-5.
Shortening the odds on the Flying Fijians is the fact that fellow heavyweights South Africa and England both suffered worrying first-day injury dramas.
The circuit-leading Blitzboks, big winners over Scotland and Russia, have lost both captain Philip Snyman (wrist) and Kwagga Smith (shoulder).
England, who swept aside Wales and Japan, are also down to 10 men after injuries to Dan Bibby and Warwick Lahmert.
Although they booked a quarters appearance, the English will face a tough task in their final pool game against an in-form USA, featuring speed kings Perry Baker and Carlin Isles.
The winner of the USA-England pool match will meet the loser of Australia and NZ on Sunday.
Argentina booked a quarters place with a gutsy late comeback against Samoa, winning 14-12 with a last-gasp converted try.
Kenya also survived a major scare, denying Scotland a match-winning try on the bell thanks to a desperate Collins Injera tackle.