Cape Town 7s: Fiji ends drought
FINAL WRAP: Fiji beat the United States 29-15 in the Cup Final and secure their first World Sevens Series victory in South Africa since 2009.
It was a pair of tries from Kalione Nasoko and Vilimoni Botitu that set up the victory.
It was Fiji’s first final since 2009 and completed a fantastic weekend – in which they remained unbeaten – by defeating the United States.
Despite the loss in the Final – the first time they reached back-to-back finals – the Americans moved to the top of the World Series standings.
They are on 38 points, one more than New Zealand, who won the opening leg in Dubai.
Fiji is third (35 points), followed by England (30) and South Africa (29).
Nasoko opened the scoring with a solo run after some excellent Fiji defending, before they were handed two gift tries. First Botitu got between a Madison Hughes pass and was free to run from deep in his own half, and then Perry Baker fumbled a one-handed play for Sevuloni Mocenacagi to capitalise.
Botitu – who won Player of the Final – exploited a gap after half-time and despite Ben Pinkleman’s two tries, Fiji was too far clear.
Nasoko’s line break allowed his second and Carlin Isles capped the final with a brilliant run to the corner, but the United States finished second for the second consecutive event.
“It’s been a long time coming, for the Fijians to win in Cape Town,” Fiji coach Gareth Baber said.
“We were disappointed last week that we didn’t manage to perform to the level that we’ve done this week.
“It makes me most proud that these players have done everything for their families back home and the country of Fiji.
“It’s great. Fijian fans are everywhere in the world, wherever we travel, and we say a big thank you to all those who make a big effort to come and support us.”
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 9, 2018
Cup Final: Fiji 29-15 United States
From the outset, Fiji managed to shut down Perry Baker. Kalione Nasoko opened the scoring, after a brilliant dummy to fool Martin Iosefo and incredible pace to make the better part of 80 metres.
Then followed a gift of a try to Fiji. Vilimoni Botitu intercepted the pass from Madison Hughes and there was no stopping him.
Perry Baker attempted a one-handed run, dropped the ball, and it was another gift for Fiji. Sevuloni Mocenacagi picked up the loose ball and ran in the try after the half-time hooter.
The United States was soon staring down the barrel. There was lots of possession for Fiji and they made it count. Vilimoni Botitu spotted a gap and powered through, shrugging off a tackle from either side to make the score.
The Americans eventually got on the board. Mesulame Kunavula brought down Ben Pinkleman, as he attacked down the right, but the American was able to make it to the line and touch the ball down.
Any thoughts of a comeback were soon put to bed. Kalione Nasoko broke through and jogged to the line with 90 seconds remaining.
From a penalty on the five-metre line, Ben Pinkleman stretched over for a second American try.
There was enough time for a restart and the United States regained the ball from a poor kick. Pinkleman went on the run down the right. The Yanks worked it back left and Carlin Isles finished in style – ending the game.
Third-place: South Africa 10-5 New Zealand
New Zealand started well in a tense battle – taking it wide and then working it back. Amanaki Nicole darted down the left, but was held up. New Zealand won a penalty. Sione Molia’s pass to Etene Nanai-Seturo on the left wing was short, but the return pass was much better and Molia is able to dot down.
New Zealand went down to six men, with Vilimoni Koroi yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. After New Zealand was restored to full numbers, South Africa took the ball through the phases and Werner Kok went on a determined run to level up the scores – 5-all at half-time.
The New Zealand defence was phenomenal for large parts, but Dewald Human eventually put South Africa ahead. He was right beside the touchline, but balanced well and went over in the corner after a lovely step and go from Selvyn Davies. South Africa then managed to hold for victory.
Fifth-place: Spain 7-14 England
England opened the scoring, with Phil Burgess shrugging off the defence after the offload from Tom Mitchell, Charlton Kerr then finished it off. Phil Burgess then left Spain in the dust.
Pol Pla got Spain on the board, but they could not break down the England defence again.
Challenge Trophy Final: Samoa 14-38 Argentina
Argentina opened the scoring when they recycled the ball and Lautaro Bazan Velez beat Alatasi Tupou with a spin to score the try. Franco Sabato then doubled the South Americans’ score. Alamanda Motuga then spotted space and drove through it with ease to put Samoa on the board. Motuga then levelled the scores, but that was the last time Samoa scored.
Conrado Roura, Ignacio Mendy, Gaston Revol and Franco Sabato ran in tries for the South Americans to claim the Challenge Trophy.
Thirteenth-place: Wales 26-33 Kenya
Kenya needed just 19 seconds for Johnstone Olindi to drive around the outside of the Welsh defence. But Owen Jenkins hits back immediately. Tomi Lewis managed to shrug off two Kenyan defenders and ran 75 metres for the next try.
The ding-dong battle continued as Jay Jones, Cyprian Kuto, Johnstone Olindi (twice, to complete his hat-trick), Leonard Mugaisi and Luke Treharne added to the scoresheet.