The World Rugby Sevens Series returned with a bang on 5 December with five of the eight men's matches on day one of the Dubai Rugby Sevens 2019 decided by seven points or less.
Series champions Fiji held off a fast-finishing Japan 24-17, while USA beat new core team Ireland 24-19 and South Africa had to come from behind to edge Kenya 17-12 in the last match of the day at 7he Sevens Stadium.
Samoa and France were the other narrow winners, coming through against Canada and Argentina respectively with a successful conversion giving Les Bleus the smallest winning margin of the day, 12-10.
By contrast, defending champions New Zealand and England put Wales and Spain to the sword by the same margin – 36-7 – while Australia were the day's top scorers with seven tries in a 43-14 defeat of Scotland.
As the first of six combined men’s and women’s event on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2020, Dubai marks the start of a new era for rugby sevens as the women’s competition increases to a record eight rounds and with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics taking place next summer.
The action continues in the desert on 6 December with the two remaining rounds of pool play before the knockout stages on Saturday.
Samoa will again kick off the men's matches at 7he Sevens Stadium, this time against Wales at 11:14 local time (GMT+4) before defending champions New Zealand tackle Canada.
Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby