Text, Picture and Video: World Rugby
South Africa denied Fiji back-to-back titles in Singapore with a dramatic 20-19 victory in the Cup final at the National Stadium.
The Blitzboks, who have only won two of their 30 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup titles in Asia, scored 20 unanswered points to complete the most remarkable of comebacks in the Cup final. It was a turnaround that won the UL Mark of Excellence Award.
The Cup final, from the start to the finish, was an exceptional contest and one of the most gripping this world series. Fiji flew in the opening seven minutes, looking unstoppable, as Aminiasi Tuimaba, Napolioni Bolaca and Vilimoni Botitu made their intensity count on the scoreboard.
With a 19-0 cushion it looked as if they would retain the title that they won 12 months ago, something no side has ever been able to do, but South Africa had other ideas.
Youngster Kurt-Lee Arendse commenced their fightback, the HSBC Player of the Final Angelo Davids followed alongside Ryan Oosthuizen one minute later. In the final seconds, South Africa remained two points down before Selvyn Davids connected with a late penalty and they held Fiji out to complete the job.
The result means that South Africa remain in fourth place in the world series standings with 121 points but open up a 14-point cushion over fifth-placed England (107 points). Fiji, now on 142 points, cut the USA's lead at the top of the standings to just three points with New Zealand sitting in third (130 points).
With the complexion of the world series standings going into the tournament, the USA, Fiji and New Zealand all had the potential to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020. However with the twists and turns of the two days, none were able to achieve the world series points required to do so and the race for early Olympic Games qualification continues.
The next stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be London on 25-26 May before the series reaches its conclusion in Paris, the weekend after.
ENGLAND SECURE BRONZE
England equalled their best finished since Sydney by securing a bronze medal with a 28-7 victory over the USA at the National Stadium.
The final was a passionate affair and both sides saw yellow cards in the first half, including two for Joe Schroeder (deliberate knock-on and a dangerous tackle). The USA held firm and forced England to go well beyond normal time in order to gain an advantage but gain one they did. Simon Amor's side went into the pause 14-7 up and worked their numerical advantage for the whole of the second seven minutes to create their 21-point win and secure 17 world series points.
FIFTH FOR SAMOA
Samoa ensured that they finished in fifth position with a 19-17 victory over New Zealand and avenged their hurtful day-one loss to the outfit.
FRANCE WIN THE CHALLENGE TROPHY
France secured the Challenge Trophy in the most dramatic and impressive of fashions with a 22-19 victory over Scotland.
John Dalziel's side were looking to secure back-to-back Challenge Trophy titles after success in Hong Kong and led 19-17 as the time went into the red. However, Scotland didn't have possession. France did and that allowed Les Bleus to orchestrate a moment of match-winning magic. From the right, they worked the ball back infield and then Sacha Valleau put boot to ball. His pinpoint grubber to the left corner was chased by Tavite Veredamu and the 29-year-old grounded it single-handedly to snatch victory and the trophy.