Seeing Japan in the same pool as New Zealand for the Hamilton Sevens, you'd have to forgive a Kiwi fan if that made them a touch nervous.
After all, the last time to two teams met was at the 2016 Rio Olympics where the All Blacks Sevens fell to a shock 14-12 loss. The result landed them a tough draw, and they were subsequently dumped out of the running by Fiji in the quarter-finals.
So if any of the minnows in the World Series were going to sneak up on the New Zealand side, Japan were the most likely candidate.
But in Hamilton, the New Zealand side gave their Asian counterparts no chance to repeat the feat.
The hosts kicked off their campaign with a 52-0 battering of Japan to not only get revenge for 2016, but signal their intentions of their home tournament. Jona Nareki starred in the match with two tries, while Andrew Knewstubb was locked in when putting boot to ball.
It was only the start of the damage New Zealand would cause, as the hosts flattened Canada 49-10 in their second match before ending the day with a 24-0 win over Spain.
But the Kiwi side wasn't the only one to make an early statement in the third stop of the World Series calendar, with the United States, South Africa and Fiji, who took out the tournament last year, all in sizzling form from the outset and going through pool play unbeaten.
Fiji, in particular, looked dangerous in pool play and were no doubt feeding on the energy of the crowd – with Fijian fans comprising roughly 50 per cent of those in attendance throughout the day.
While most of the perennial world title contenders went through pool play with little difficulty, England were upset early by Samoa and ultimately finished pool play in the bottom eight. Coming into the event fourth in the World Series standings, England will surely tumble down the ladder after the event.
Samoa on the other hand will have the chance to climb from 10th on the ladder after qualifying in the cup draw and booking a quarter-final against South Africa.
A trans-Tasman clash awaits Kiwi fans on Sunday, with the All Blacks Sevens set to meet Australia in the quarter-finals after Australia lost to Fiji in their final pool game to finish second in their group.
USA meet Scotland while Fiji take on Canada.
New Zealand results
- beat Japan 52-0
- beat England 19-14 (women's)
- beat Canada 49-10
- beat France 24-5 (women's)
- beat Spain 24-0
Catch up on all the day's action below:
- Perry Baker (USA) - suffered a broken jaw in his side's first game. OUT of the tournament
- Sarah Hirini (Black Ferns Sevens) - limped off the pitch with an ankle injury in his side's first match of the weekend. OUT of the remaining two as a precaution.
8.33pm: Canada prove to be too strong for Japan, closing out a 26-0 win to qualify for the top eight. They'll meet Fiji in the knockout stages.
8.13pm: Fiji get the win over Australia. They take a 26-19 victory, sending Australia to a knockout match against New Zealand.
Just two matches to go tonight - Canada v Japan, and NZ v Spain.
7.49pm: Argentina thrash Wales 36-7. Fiji and Australia will now meet, with the loser meeting New Zealand in the quarter-finals.
7.27pm: In what was the best game of the event so far, USA have toppled England 19-7 to top their group. England will play for the minor awards tomorrow, finishing third in their group. Samoa will join USA in the top eight.
7.06pm: After South Africa swept Scotland aside 26-7, Tonga and Samoa played out a thrilling match that came down to the final minute before either team were able to pull away. Samoa were able to snare the win, with two tries inside the final minute giving them a flattering 28-12 victory.
Back after grabbing some kai. Here's what has happened in the last half an hour or so:
- Kenya beat France 19-15.
And that's about it. South Africa are now taking on Scotland, who are wearing fluorescent green...
Black Ferns Sevens v France
In a rematch of last year's World Series final, the Black Ferns Sevens head into battle against France without captain Sarah Hirini.
Deputising as captain, Tyla Nathan-Wong was called into action early to convert a Stacey Waaka try inside of two minutes.
Waaka added another two minutes later, as the Kiwi side raced out to a 12-0 lead.
Before half-time, Waaka had a hat-trick - scoring on both wings as well as under the posts to lift the hosts to a 17-0 lead at the break.
France opened the scoring in the second half and were unlucky not to bag two tries back to back, with some strong one-on-one defence from Michaela Blyde not only halting a dangerous attack but also earning a turnover.
Young Manawatu product Rhiarna Ferris was given her first career appearance as a late substitute and was the first to congratulate Blyde on what was the final try of the match.
The Black Ferns took a convincing 24-5 win to remain unbeaten on the day.
They'll meet China tomorrow for their final match of the weekend.
5.09pm: England run out to a 33-14 win over China, after being locked at 14 early in the second half.
4.51pm: Back to women's action now, with England facing China before the Black Ferns Sevens meet France.
New Zealand v Canada
Straight from the kick-off, Vilimoni Koroi is too fast to stop! He catches the kick-off on the burst and goes straight up the middle to score what is surely one of the fastest tries in Sevens history.
It was a sign of things to come, with Regan Ware running in two more to have NZ leading 21-0 after six minutes.
Scott Curry adds another try before half-time after Canada lose a man to a yellow card and NZ lead 28-0 at the break.
Wales crack the NZ line to begin the second half, with Justin Douglas bagging himself a try. They're the first points conceded by the Kiwi side in the tournament.
Before long they add a second through Cole Davis, who stretches out from close range to plant the ball despite some defenders hanging off him.
After a slow start to the half, Joe Ravouvou got things going again for the hosts, running in the side's fifth try of the match. He's followed in by Sione Molia, who picks up his second try of the tournament, as does Andrew Knewstubb who crosses in the dying seconds of the game to give NZ a 49-10 win.
4.28pm: Spain fight off Japan to remain unbeaten and claim a 22-19 win. They're now counting a win and a draw.
NZ up next.
Sarah Hirini joins Hamilton Sevens injury ward
A minor ankle injury has ended Sarah Hirini's weekend early.
After limping off the field in her team's win over England earlier in the day, the Black Ferns Sevens captain will be held out of the side's two remaining games this weekend as a precaution.
Rhiarna Ferris will come into the squad for her Black Ferns Sevens debut and Tyla Nathan-Wong will take over the captaincy.
4.04pm: Fiji have joined the unbeaten club, taking a 33-24 win over a tough Argentinan squad.
3.38pm: Australia go two for two as well, punishing Wales 26-5.
The crowd comes to life in a big way once more, as Fiji return to the pitch to take on Argentina. As the crowd has floated in throughout the day, the ration of blues to every other colour hasn't changed - it's still more than half filled with fans of the Fijian team, and they're loud. Great to see the supporters finding their voices.
3.14pm: USA have lived up to expectations early in the tournament, claiming their second straight dominant win. The Eagles beat Samoa 34-14, led by a hat-trick from Carlin Isles.
Unpopular opinion time: I love the Australian Sevens team kits. Bright yellow and bright green, together at last!
They're up now against Wales.
After a slow start, England have run out to a 36-7 win over Tonga. The Tongan side opened the scoring in the second minute, inducing a huge roar from the crowd. However, England found their rhythm eventually and punished their counterparts to notch their first win of the day.
2.34pm: South Africa go two-for-two with a 17-5 win over France.
Perry Baker is OUT of the tournament
USA superstar Perry Baker will fly home tomorrow after suffering a broken jaw in his side's opening match in Hamilton.
Baker was taken out of the game late by a head clash and a medical examination revealed the break which will rule him out of taking any further part in the weekend's action.
2.10pm: Back to men's action now. Scotland get their second win of the day with a 19-10 victory over Kenya. South Africa will look to follow suit against France.
"Pure excitement" for Black Ferns
Black Ferns Sevens star Ruby Tui admits their debut performance on home soil probably wasn't the best game the team has ever played, but one that was a long time coming.
The side beat England 19-14 in the first game of their 'Fast Four' mini-tournament, which is being run in conjunction with the Hamilton Sevens.
It was a game that had brought "pure excitement" to the team in the lead up, with the women's sevens squad finally getting a chance to do their thing in front of a home audience.
"Some of us have been training seven years for that moment," Tui told the Herald after the game. "It's really good to get it out of the way and get the job done.
"We said to the girls to just go out, have fun and show everyone what we're made of. We got that one out of the way and every single girl got a touch of the ball. We're really happy, and they were team tries."
And while the team rode a high after the match, it wasn't without one low point. captain Sarah Hirini was forced from the field with a suspected ankle injury and was set to undergo a medical examination to see just how serious the damage was.
Black Ferns Sevens v England
Michaela Blyde has scored the first try for the New Zealand women's sevens team on home soil after bursting onto an offload to break England right up the middle.
Sarah Hirini is in soon after. She's rewarded for backing up the play and throws a little dummy to split two defenders. Hirini is forced from the field late in the second half with a leg injury. Terina Te Tamaki replaces her.
England get on the board to end the half as Helena Rowland goes in under the bar. The conversion is an interesting one - bouncing up off the crossbar before falling over. At half-time the Black Ferns Sevens lead 14-7.
The New Zealand side are the first to strike in the second half. After some back and forth play, Gayle Broughton gets over the line out wide. England won't go quietly though and hit back immediately through Rowland, who again goes in underneath the sticks.
It's a case of too little too late for the English side though, with the Black Ferns winning 19-14.
1.25pm: The French women's team take a relatively convincing win over their Chinese counterparts. Putting up 19 unanswered points in the first half, the French team looked to be in cruise control. China got on the board late in the second half, but France answered straight back with two more tries of their own to win 31-7.
1.00pm: It's time for the women to do their thing out on the turf at FMG Stadium. France will take on China in the first match, before New Zealand take on England.
New Zealand v Japan
The hosts get off to a dream start, turning the ball over and getting on the board early through Sione Molia.
Jona Nareki joins the action a couple of minutes later. Plenty of passing in that move as the New Zealand side looked to find a hole in the Japanese defence. They eventually crack through, with Nareki the benefactor. He's followed in by Andrew Knewstubb on the next possession. New Zealand leads 21-0 after 4min30sec for the match.
Dylan Collier adds one more before the half-time siren. The kick is no good, so NZ take a 26-0 lead into the break.
It doesn't take long for the scoring to continue in the second half, with Regan Ware doing well to split through two defenders and scurry over to score under the posts. Nareki grabs his second for the day on the next possession. New Zealand leads 40-0 with 3min40sec to play.
Vilimoni Koroi and Joe Ravouvou add two more late, and the Kiwi side win it by 52.
12.33pm: An odd ending between Canada and Spain. Locked at 12-12, the Spanish team kick the ball to touch after the hooter, but must have forgotten the game was level. The sides settle for a hard-fought draw.
New Zealand now take on Japan. Comparing the roars from the crowd, it would appear there are more fans of Fiji out here than fans of NZ.
Fiji have decimated Wales in their opening fixture of the weekend, putting 554 points on the board against their European counterparts. Fiji ran out to a 54-7 win, with plenty of good work at the breakdown to thank for an impressive amount of possession.
11.50am: Australia see off Argentina 17-12 and not one second after the final whistle blows the Fijian fans in the crowd roar to life with their side up next.
The cheer came so quickly after the final whistle of the Australia v Argentina game I honestly thought there was a streaker.
Fiji meet Wales first up.
USA have waltzed past Tonga to open up their account with a 29-7 win, but they may have lost star speedster Perry Baker for the tournament after he came off the pitch late in the game in a fair bit of pain.
11.03am We have an early upset! Samoa have toppled England in a thrilling encounter. Samoa ran out to an early lead and held off the English comeback to win 12-10.
One look at the ground and anyone would think there are a whole lot of Australian fans out in Hamilton today. Everywhere you look, there's a bright yellow cowboy hat.
As it turns out, the hats are a giveaway from a finance company - though I'm sure the Australian team won't mind the illusion of support.
As a Scottish fan proudly donning his hat said: "We've been tricked!"
10.40am: South Africa have made an impressive start to their campaign, steamrolling Kenya 29-10. After falling behind early, South Africa went on to outscore the Kenyans five tries to two.
England take on Samoa in the next fixture.
10.20am: It didn't take long for some controversy. Scotland took a last-second win over France on the back of a questionable pass that had members in the media room shouting "forward!"
Kenya take on South Africa in the next match.
Welcome to what is shaping up as a lovely day here in Hamilton. A fair bit of cloud in the sky providing some welcome cover from the heat of the sun. France and Scotland kick things off in the first match of the day.