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US, Fiji, NZ qualify for Tokyo Olympics at London Sevens

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LONDON (AP) — The United States, Fiji, and New Zealand qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in rugby sevens after making the London Sevens quarterfinals on Saturday.

The top four from the ongoing sevens world series automatically qualify, and the leading three guaranteed their berths. South Africa, fourth in the series standings, has almost locked up the fourth qualifying spot after winning its pool and seeing nearest rival England fail to reach the quarterfinals of its home event at Twickenham.

On Sunday, the quarterfinals are: United States vs. Canada, Fiji vs. Ireland, South Africa vs. Australia, and New Zealand vs. France.

South Africa was the most impressive in pool play, going unbeaten in putting 49 points on Japan, 45 on Canada, and 40 on Argentina.

Fiji, the Olympic champion, was made to fret by only Samoa, which led 17-14 until Fiji newcomer Asaeli Tuivuaka scored the go-ahead try and Waisea Nacuqu got the insurance try in injury time for 26-17.

The U.S., the only team to reach at least the semifinals at every series stop, knocked off Spain and Wales but was under pressure from Australia. When American Steve Tomasin was sin-binned, Australia pounced to lead 17-12. But Tomasin came back to score a try from his own half, and Madison Hughes made the conversion for the U.S. to win 19-17 and stay unbeaten.

England was in trouble from the first game, where it lost to Ireland 21-17. The English came back in a thrilling second half to lead 17-14 with time almost up, but Irish replacement Mike McGrath, on debut, raced through to score.

In the meantime, New Zealand comfortably beat Scotland and Ireland, and left England needing to beat the Kiwis by 10 to reach the quarterfinals. England led 17-7 until a Tone Ng Shiu try limited its bittersweet win to 17-12.

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