VIDEO: Fiji steals a march on BlitzBoks
SEVENS WORLD SERIES: Fiji took a giant leap towards claiming the 2017-18 title.
Fiji overcame closest rivals South Africa 21-17 in a thrilling Final of the London leg of the World Series at an exuberant Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.
It means they have claimed their fourth successive tournament victory and extended their lead at the top of the standings to seven points over the second-placed BlitzBoks – going into the 10th and final round of the series in Paris this coming weekend.
Invitational team Ireland created history by beating hosts England 21-19 to claim the bronze medal – with a last-gasp try from the outstanding Jordan Conroy, his eighth of the tournament, followed by a stunning conversion from the sideline by Mark Roche.
Fiji had seen off Ireland in the semifinals by a margin of 38-12, while South Africa reached the Final courtesy of a 29-19 semifinal victory over England.
Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai was delighted with the victory: “I’m really happy with the boys today [Sunday].
“It is always a pleasure to play in London and we are really blessed with all the Fijian supporters here.
“The victory means a lot to us, as a team and as a nation. Our goal was to come here and lift the London cup and we did.
“Our next goal is to win the world series so we will regroup and be ready to go again next week. We are really excited about Paris.”
Tuwai’s teammate Semi Radradra won the Player of the Final award and after receiving his medal from World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, said: “I found it tough today [Sunday], but I got help from the boys and was hanging in there. I know we trust each other and finally, we got the win.”
Earlier in the day, New Zealand secured fifth place with a comprehensive 26-5 victory over the United States, while Kenya beat Wales 33-19 to finish in ninth position and lift the Challenge trophy.
Meanwhile, the series said goodbye to referee Craig Joubert, who brought down the curtain on a stellar match official career as the World Cup 2011 Final referee took charge of this 200th and last Sevens series match with the Fiji v Ireland semifinal.
Joubert will continue his involvement with the game as World Rugby Sevens referee coach.
Attention now turns to the final round of both the World Series in Paris – on from Friday to Sunday, June 8 to 10.
With seven points separating the top two in the men’s standings, it promises to be an exciting finale to the series.
* Toulon wing Josua Tuisova scored a try to help fire Fiji to a 21-17 victory over arch-rivals South Africa in the Final.
Fiji’s hopes of a fourth straight tournament win took an early blow when Sevuloni Mocenacagi was yellow carded from the kick-off for taking Justin Geduld out in the air.
South Africa immediately made their numerical advantage count, Stedman Gans scything through the stretched defence for the opening try, Geduld converting.
Fiji did well, however, to absorb the BlitzBok pressure when a man down, and showed just why they average just 23 passes per match, such is the efficiency of their strike power.
Tuisova, also part of the Fiji team that won Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 but not a regular on the circuit, muscled his way past some weak defence for a try, converted by Amenoni Nasilasila, to pull the Pacific Islanders level.
Paula Dranisinukula was the final recipient of an amazing display of off-loading rugby started by Semi Radradra, crossing for Fiji’s second try with Nasilasila making no mistake with a conversion in front of the posts.
The BlitzBoks hit back when Ruhan Nel expertly took a high pass one-handed and rode a tackle by Dranisinukula to cross in the corner, Geduld missing the extras.
But Fiji responded perfectly, Jasa Veremalua skilfully exchanging passes with Josua Vakurunabili to go over for Fiji’s third try, Nasilasila’s conversion taking the Fijians out to 21-12.
Bok Zain Davids bounced through a couple of desperate tackles for a fine individual try to set up a dramatic finale, but Fiji won the restart and safely ran the ball out to seal the win.
Day Two results:
Fiji 21 South Africa 17
Ireland 21 England 19
Fiji 38 Ireland 12
South Africa 29 England 19
Fiji 40 Canada 7
Ireland 22 United States 12
South Africa 14 New Zealand 5
England 21 Australia 17
Fifth place play-off
New Zealand 26 United States 5
United States 27 Canada 19
New Zealand 38 Australia 7
Ninth place play-off
Kenya 33 Wales 19
Kenya 42 Argentina 10
Wales 27 Russia 12
Argentina 19 Samoa 14
Kenya 38 Spain 0
Russia 15 Scotland 10
Wales 33 France 29
Samoa 34 Scotland 10
Samoa 26 Spain 10
Scotland 43 France 21
Sources: @WorldRugby7s & AFP