New Delhi - New Zealand made a storming start to their bid for a record-breaking fourth consecutive gold in the Commonwealth Games rugby Sevens on Monday with 95 points from their first two games.
The Kiwis crushed Canada 43-7 in a game marred by two yellow cards for the champions who followed up with an easy 52-0 victory over Guyana.
All the big teams won their first pool games easily in contests that often served up mismatches as minnows such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Uganda and India took on the faster and more physical imposing established teams.
New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens insisted his team weren't favourites, pointing to the strong field of competitors including sevens World Cup winners Wales, a strong-looking Samoa side and the usual southern hemisphere rivals.
"There's another five to six teams out there. Australia will be tough, There's England, Wales, South Africa, and Samoa won the World Series. We're nowhere near the favourites," he told reporters after the Guyana game.
Since the sport was introduced in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, the Kiwis have dominated the event and their path to a fourth gold in Delhi has been eased by the absence of twice silver medallists Fiji, who are banned from taking part.
Injury-ravaged South Africa made a strong start as they brushed aside Tonga 29-0 before defeating home side India 59-0 in front of an enthusiastic but smaller than expected crowd.
Australia also ran out easy winners 33-0 in their first game against unfancied Uganda.
"It's pretty hot out there," said Wallaby flyer Lachie Turner on the warm conditions in the Indian capital. "It was definitely a learning experience for me but I'm glad the nerves are out of the way."
The afternoon games will see several clashes that will give clues as to the eventual winners, with England taking on Australia, South Africa versus Wales, New Zealand against Scotland, and Samoa and Kenya.
Organisers had stressed beforehand that the rugby was sold out, but there were again glaringly empty spaces in the stadiums despite the array of international talent on display.
The event though has interested dozens of birds of prey which can be seen circling above the stadium.
"We saw them eating the seeds before the match but as long as they stay off the field while we are playing we are fine," joked New Zealander DJ Forbes.
The younger rugby sevens players vying for gold in Delhi also have their eye on a even bigger prize in the future - the first Olympics competition for the sport in 2016.
Rugby sevens will be included for the first time in the Rio de Janeiro showcase, handing the shortened format of the sport the ultimate platform to promote itself.
"I'm gutted," said 29-year-old Tongan John Cocker "Because I've been playing for four years and now the Olympics have come up and my time is almost up.
"But it's good for everyone else I guess."