Fiji reclaim Hong Kong 7s title beating NZ 33-19 in final
HONG KONG (AP) — Fiji reclaimed the Hong Kong Sevens title when it routed defending champion New Zealand 33-19 in the final on Sunday.
Fiji blasted to a 21-0 lead in the first half, taking the tension out of the 12th final matchup between the tournament’s most successful sides.
Each time New Zealand rallied, Fiji had a reply, and even denied New Zealand the last say when Fiji’s Vatemo Ravouvou and Apisai Domolailai bundled out Rieko Ioane just shy of the left corner flag.
“Tactically, we were really astute,” Fiji coach Ben Ryan said. “I’m really pleased with the way they managed the final.”
The win was Fiji’s third in four years in the Hong Kong Sevens, and a record-extending 13th in the tournament it prizes above all others.
Fiji’s third win from six tournaments in the sevens world series also lifted it above New Zealand into second place, two points behind leader South Africa, and in position to win a first series in nine years.
New Zealand, also defending the series title, was one point behind. The Japan Sevens is next weekend in Tokyo.
Great support play set up Savenaca Rawaca for the opening try, then Semi Kunitani stole ruck ball from New Zealand and sent in Jerry Tuwai. New Zealand tried a five-man attacking lineout, but then trying to back up the sole player out wide ended up giving an intercept try to Rawaca.
Beaudine Waaka’s try just before halftime put New Zealand on the board, and Scott Curry’s immediately after raised hope. But it was dampened by a try by Jasa Veremalua for 28-12 with seven minutes to go.
Curry scored his second try after Sam Dickson took in three defenders, but Ravouvou swept around the left and gifted Domolailai the fifth and last try for Fiji.
“That’s a great Fijian side,” New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens said. “They defended really well and a couple of length-of-the-field tries killed us.”
Fiji did well merely to survive its quarterfinal. It led England 14-5 with a penalty try, then lost a man to the sin-bin, too. England, at 14-12 down, gave James Rodwell a chance in the right corner, but Rawaca pulled off a brilliant try-saving tackle.
Fiji blasted to a 21-0 lead against South Africa in the semifinals then just managed to hold on 21-15 in another thriller.
South Africa finished third, beating Samoa 26-5.