Hong Kong 7s: It is Fiji again
FINALS WRAP: Fiji made history with FIVE straight titles in a row in the Sevens World Series’ showpiece event.
They beat France 21-7 in a brutal and at times spiteful, but also very entertaining Final.
Over the course of three scintillating days of action, Gareth Baber’s side enthralled the crowd as they achieved something that no other side has ever been able to do.
In the Cup final, Jerry Tuwai, who is the only current player to have played in all four of the finals, pulled the strings majestically while Aminiasi Tuimaba scored a brace and Vilimoni Botitu also crossed for a try.
After their silver medal in Vancouver, France were playing in their second consecutive Cup final in a season which is something that they hadn’t achieved before.
The win saw Fiji move past New Zealand into second place on the World Series standings.
The United States cemented their place at the top of the World Series standings with a third place finish in Hong Kong, beating Samoa 22-10 in a bruising bronze medal match.
Argentina claimed fifth place with a 21-14 victory over New Zealand – Matias Osadczuk the man of the moment. He shook himself out of the clutches of two New Zealand players and raced away to score the match-winning try.
“It’s a fantastic feeling and I’m sure that it will sink in over the next two or three days,” the Fijian coach, Baber, said.
“I think that all of this has been in the backdrop of what happened in Christchurch, obviously our hearts and our thoughts go out to all of those families and this is a dedication to them.”
Cup Final: Fiji 21-7 France
It was an energetic start, but a few early errors – as both teams attempted to force to issue. Tavite Turaganibuli Veredamu was the main culprit, with two early knock-ons.
It took a full five minutes before Fiji unlocked the French defence, Tavite Turaganibuli Veredamu scoring after the Pacific Islanders had to work their way out of their own 22.
Aminiasi Tuimaba then finished off a moment of pure magic by the Fijians, a over-head back pass creating the opening – to make it 14-0 at the break.
France got back in the game – with a penalty try – when Josua Vakurunabili was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle right on the tryline.
Tavite Turaganibuli Veredamu was then sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and Tuimaba stretched the lead with a step and go – 21-7.
Tuimaba was then yellow carded for a no-arms tackle. However, Stephen Parez butchered a try when he grubbered the ball into the in-goal area with a two-man overlap.
It gifted Fiji the title.
* Below – draw for next week’s Singapore tournament
Third-place play-off: United States 22-10 Samoa
It was a nervous start by both teams, with the United States’ defence holding firm against the physical Samoans. It was Maceo Terrel Brown who eventually powered over to open the scoring for the Eagles.
Carlin Isles then scored a try unlike he normally does – forcing his way over from close range, with a defender hanging on – not from a long distance out, using his pace. It was his ninth try of the weekend.
John Vaili finally opened Samoa’s account right on the half-time hooter – 10-5 at the break.
Vaili was yellow carded early in the second half and with the one-man advantage Joe Schroeder found a gap in the middle of the field to make it 17-5. Marcus Fasitupe Tupuola then stretched it to 22-5.
There was time for Melani Matavao to pull one back, but it was too little, too late.
Fifth-place play-off: Argentina 21-14 New Zealand
Argentina moved out of the blocks quickest, with Franco Sabato striking off a clean set-move from the line-out. Kurt Baker hit back for New Zealand with a long-range try two minutes from half-time.
The TMO was required to confirm an Argentinean try right on the half-time hooter – Agustin Segura’s score giving Los Pumas a 14-7 lead at the break.
Iukarisitone James Ng Shiu gave New Zealand the response they wanted, a try with four minutes remaining on the clock, to level up the scores. However, Baker was yellow carded for throwing the ball away after being penalised for not releasing in the tackle.
Matias Osadczuk busted through two defenders to score the winner for Argentina.
Challenge Trophy Final: Scotland 26-24 Japan
After Japan dominated the early stages, it was Max McFarland who took matters into his own hands with blistering pace to get Scotland right back in the mix. Kameli Raravou Soejima, one of the early try scorers, touched down right on the half-time hooter to make it 19-7 at the break.
Katsuyuki Sakai scored early in the second half, as Japan threatened to run away with the match. Max McFarland and Robbie Fergusson score tries in quick succession, as Scotland found a way back into the game. Gavin Lowe made it three tries in three minutes, as Scotland took the lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Another penalty – the fourth in quick succession – saw Japan down a man for the final few seconds, allowing Scotland to play the clock and complete an amazing comeback.
Thirteenth-place: Spain 19-14 Wales (sudden-death extra time – 14-all at end of regulation time)
There was absolutely nothing to separate Wales and Spain after 14 minutes, so the two sides went to the golden point play. Jaime Mata proved to be Spain’s hero, as he pounced on a chip forward and made sure that the win belongs to Los Leones.