Commonwealth Games: Two yellow cards mar NZ's sevens opener

Tomasi Cama of New Zealand scores a try in the Pool A Rugby 7's match between New Zealand and Canada at Delhi University on day eight of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. Photo / Getty Images
Tomasi Cama of New Zealand scores a try in the Pool A Rugby 7's match between New Zealand and Canada at Delhi University on day eight of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. Photo / Getty Images

Two yellow cards marred an otherwise smooth start to New Zealand's defence of their Commonwealth Games sevens rugby gold medal today.

A 43-7 crushing of Canada featured a slick first half in which New Zealand raced 33-0 clear, scoring five of their seven tries.

However, they imploded in the second spell as Tomasi Cama and Liam Messam spent time in the sinbin for contrasting infractions.

Captain DJ Forbes said he expected referees would put his side under the microscope at the Games.

"Being New Zealand, there's a tendency to look with closer detail at our boys. That's part of the game and we deal with that," Forbes told NZPA.

"We know that there's a few odds against us. The key for us though is going to be discipline, especially in the bigger games. That one call against you could lose us a game."

Playmaker Cama was actually lucky his punishment wasn't worse after punching prone opposite Sean Duke following a tackle but Messam's yellow card moments later was comical as the big forward appeared to do nothing to warrant it.

New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens has player riches at his disposal in this tournament.

He could afford to leave fringe All Blacks Messam and Zac Guildford on the bench along with renowned sevens flyer Sherwin Stowers, although all came on soon after halftime.

New Zealand purred into life from the kickoff, with Kurt Baker scooting 75m to score, followed by tries to Tim Mikkelson, Hosea Gear, Ben Smith and Cama, who also slotted four conversions in the match.

Stowers grabbed both second-half tries while Canada's lone try went to Neil Meechan when New Zealand were down to five players.

Forbes, who showed no sign of the groin injury that has sidelined him for most of the last three months, was largely content.

"Starting the tournament, you always want to put in a good performance just to see where you're at," he said.

In the other pool A match, Scotland beat Guyana 26-0.

The top two teams from all of the four pools of four will advance to tomorrow's knockout phase.

South Africa opened with an impressive 29-0 defeat of Tonga while a green-looking Indian side went down 7-56 to Wales.

Tongan coach John Coker's pre-Games concerns that his players had overindulged may have been borne out in their performance.

"Food has been an issue in the (athletes') village," he said.

"The first couple of days the boys all got into the food and put on a couple of kilograms."

World series champions Samoa are expected to be New Zealand's main rivals for gold here.

However, they are without veteran playmaker Uale Mai, who has taken up a contract with a Spanish club.

Kenya should adapt well to the heat, 2006 silver medallists England have a strong squad while South Africa have been weakened somewhat by injury and availability issues.

Nine of the world's 12 highest-ranked sevens teams are among the 16 teams here.

- NZPA

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