A pair of tries from Kalione Nasoko and Vilimoni Botitu helped Fiji beat USA 29-15 in the Cup final in Cape Town and secure their first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series victory in South Africa since 2005.
Highlights | Day 1
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Koroi’s score came with New Zealand and South Africa deadlocked at 21-21, with the All Blacks Sevens needing to win to make Sunday’s Cup quarter-finals in Cape Town.
They had trailed twice — first through Rosko Specman’s try and then Branco du Preez — but Sione Molia’s try was converted with one second remaining to set up the most enthralling of finishes.
It sets up a quarter-final tie with Australia, who finished top of Pool D. South Africa will face Scotland, Fiji will take on Spain, and USA will be up against England.
New Zealand had suffered a scare earlier in the afternoon with a 21-17 defeat against Samoa. Tila Meloi’s last-minute try left the All Blacks Sevens on the brink of the Challenge Trophy.
Koroi’s heroics for New Zealand meant that Samoa finished third in the pool, having put the pressure on with a 33-12 victory over Zimbabwe. Tries from Stephan Hunduza and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo gave Zimbabwe hope but Samoa proved too strong.
South Africa were denied an unbeaten day with defeat to New Zealand. They began the day by coming from behind to defeat Samoa (22-12) before Siviwe Soyizwapi’s hat-trick helped the hosts to a 43-0 victory over neighbours Zimbabwe.
Spain provided the shock of the day by beating Argentina in their first game before qualifying for the Cup quarter-finals at the expense of the South American outfit.
Argentina led twice but two tries each for Javier Carrion and Pablo Fontes helped Spain to a 35-12 victory. A resounding 52-0 win over Japan put Spain on the brink of qualification before it was confirmed thanks to USA’s victory over Argentina.
USA needed a recovery in that match to end day one in Cape Town unbeaten. A win was all they required to qualify for the Cup quarter-finals but found themselves 14-7 down at the break with one minute to play with six men in the second half after Danny Barrett’s yellow card.
But four tries after the break — including Matai Leuta demonstrating his excellent balance as he sprinted for the whitewash along the touchline — sent them through.
Earlier, the USA demolished Japan (52-0) and beat Spain (38-17) to set up tomorrow’s clash with England.
Fiji survived a late scare against England in the final Pool C match of the day to ensure they finished top.
They were two converted tries clear with just over a minute to play when Will Muir attacked the right-hand wing to dot down before Alex Davis did the same down the opposite side. Muir’s try went unconverted and Fiji stole the ball from the restart in a thrilling climax.
Fiji had earlier run rampant against France (50-0) and Kenya (38-7) on an impressive opening day.
England were made to work for victory over Kenya, who came back from an early deficit to take a brief lead, but Dan Norton’s hat-trick completed a 29-12 victory. France’s Nisie Huyard scored two tries but it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat against England (26-12).
Australia once again picked up three wins on the opening day, with a Maurice Longbottom try in the final seconds against Wales got them off to a good start.
John Porch ended the day with four tries including a hat-trick against Canada as his Australian team also dispatched with Scotland.
The Scots put four tries past Wales (28-7) after their own last-ditch victory against Canada.
Longbottom gave Australia a first and fourth minute try with Jesse Parahi scoring in between times. Tries from Robbie Fergusson and Harvey Elms got Scotland onto the scoreboard but they never looked like coming back and had to settle for second place.
Justin Douglas became Canada’s all-time leading try scorer in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, but his side could only manage a victory over Wales as they had to settle for third.
He scored two tries in their defeat to Scotland to draw him level with eanDuke, before a second-minute try against Wales took him onto 125 and above his countryman. Douglas added a further try to his tally to help secure victory.
Highlights | Day 2
It was Fiji's first final since 2009 and completed a fantastic weekend — in which they remained unbeaten — by defeating the United States.
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 HSBC Player of the Final — exploited a gap after half time and despite Ben Pinkelman’s two tries, Fiji were too far clear. Nasoko’s line break allowed his second and Carlin Isles capped the final with a brilliant run to the corner, but USA finished second for the second consecutive event.
South Africa secure Bronze
There was a repeat of the final match on day one in Cape Town as the hosts South Africa got one back over New Zealand with a 10-5 win to claim third place. It was a breathless affair once again as New Zealand took an early lead through Sione Molia after a one-two with Etene Nanai-Seturo.
South Africa pulled level when Werner Kok went on a blistering diagonal run to find the corner, before taking the lead in the second half. After a number of phases were brilliantly broken down by the All Blacks Sevens’ defence, Selvyn Davids played a step and go before offloading to Dewald Human to touch down the winning try.
England end fifth
England took fifth in Cape Town after their play-off final win against Spain, who themselves recorded their best-ever finish in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Charlton Kerr got his first try of the weekend to open the scoring after a nice offload from Tom Mitchell, before Phil Burgess spotted a huge gap in the defence and was left with a simple run at the posts.
England led by 14 at half time but Spain recovered after the break, Dan Norton’s touch beyond the try line stopping them from getting on the board. Pol Pla eventually gave Spain hope with a run around the outside, but they couldn’t mount the comeback they needed.
Argentina Take Challenge Trophy
Argentina left Cape Town with the Challenge Trophy after beating Samoa 38-14 in the final. They took the lead early in the first half through Lautaro Bazan Velez and Franco Sabato, before Alamanda Motuga’s double levelled things up. Conrado Roura restored the lead before half time and Argentina ran riot in the second half, scoring three more tries. Ignacio Mendy touched down in the corner, Gaston Revol recovered well after a slip and Sabato got his second — his seventh of the weekend — to seal victory.