Sevens: NZ beat Canada 31-12

By Andrew Alderson in Moscow

New Zealand have started their World Cup sevens campaign with a 31-12 win over Canada amid record summer temperatures in the Russian capital.

The Sir Gordon Tietjens-coached side streaked to a 19-0 first half lead which provided the necessary buffer to fend off two second half Canadian tries in front of a crowd dwarfed by the 89,000 seats.

Muscovites appeared keener to seize a chance to visit their weekend summerhouses, judging by the gridlocked Friday traffic.

New Zealand's performance was convincing for the most part but importantly it gave them a chance to acclimatise to a temperature which peaked at 31 degrees.

Yesterday produced the hottest Moscow temperature (31.4 degrees) on that day in 102 years. You could have cooked beef stroganoff on the pavement.

New Zealand's famed fitness enabled them to put together a sound display ahead of further pool games against Georgia and the United States.

Gillies Kaka and Tim Mikkelson took knocks but are expected to remain fit.

"It was good to see guys like Peter Ahki using their step," Tietjens said.

"We started well and put pressure on. I was pretty nervous going into the game because the heat was a telling factor."

Compounding Tietjens' nerves was New Zealand's quarter-final exit at the last World Cup in Dubai four years ago. He sounds tense.

Of the other key World Cup contenders: Fiji looked ominous beating Tonga 45-0, defending champions Wales defeated Uruguay 33-5 and England dismantled Portugal 21-7.

The New Zealand women's side start their campaign tomorrow in the opening match against Tunisia (5pm NZ time).

They have an arduous day playing further pool matches against the Netherlands and Canada.

New Zealand 31 (K.Baker, P.Ahki, S.Stowers 2, G.Kaka tries, Kaka 3 con)
Canada 12 (H.Jones, N.Dala tries, N.Hiriyama con)

* Andrew Alderson travelled to Moscow courtesy of New Zealand Rugby.

- NZ Herald

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