In a pulsating men’s final New Zealand took the early lead but Fiji responded with some dazzling play to wrest back the initaitive with a converted try to make it 7-5 at half-time. Then converted tries to Vatemo Ravouvou and Fiji 400-metre sprinter Niko Verekauta broke the game apart for Fiji whose defence and all round play was too strong for New Zealand.
Fiji captain Nasoni Roko was delighted with the result, “We worked very hard this week to ensure we were ready and coach Ben Ryan has done a good job with the boys. We knew New Zealand would be very physical and they are always hard to beat. Luckily we have some good talent and in Niko we have some very fast speed out wide.”
Early action in the men’s quarter-finals on Day Two saw Fiji concede its first points of the tournament to Tonga but it ran out 49-7 winners. Samoa proved too strong for Cook Islands 31-7, Australia had no trouble accounting for American Samoa 59-0 while New Zealand beat Papua New Guinea 54-0.
The semi-finals were worth the entry fee as Fiji took on Pacific neighbours Samoa and old foes New Zealand and Australia went toe-to-toe. Fiji looked very comfortable beating Samoa 24-12 but New Zealand had to come from 14-0 down to overhaul Australia 19-14. Samoa beat a tired looking Australia 33-7 in the third and fourth play-off.
HSBC Sevens World Series qualification
For Tonga and Papua New Guinea there was some consolation at not progressing to the latter knockout stages. PNG finished the tournament in fifth place and therefore qualified, as the best placed non-core Sevens World Series team, to play at the 2015 HSBC Hong Kong and Wellington legs. Tonga finished in sixth place and qualified as the second best non-core team and won qualification to the Hong Kong Sevens also.
PNG had to work hard to finish fifth as it drew with American Samoa in their pool match 12-12 on day one. In the all-important fifth-eighth semi-final it was 10-all at half-time before PNG ran out 27-10 winners. However, there was disappointment for Cook Islands who missed out on HSBC qualification after losing 29-5 to Tonga in the other fifth-eighth semi-final. PNG then beat Tonga 26-17 for fifth place in the Championships.
PNG captain Hubert Tseraha stated, “Its very good as we did not expect this as we have many new players in our team. But they stepped up and replaced the missing experienced boys who were not here. Playing in Hong Kong and Wellington is something we had not really thought about until today. It will be a big step up but for rugby in PNG this is a really big boost.”
The women’s tournament saw New Zealand and Australia, the defending champion, progress as the top two seeds from the seven-team pool stage. Over the two days the teams all played each other once and both again dominated their remaining pool matches on the second day. NZ remained unbeaten in the pool stages and was seeded at one with Australia, who only lost to New Zealand, seeded at two for the final.
This set up a mouth-watering finale between the two best sides in the tournament. However, NZ early took an early 14-point lead and dominated territory and led at the break 21-5. They continued to dominate in the second half denying Australia little space and possession and ran out winners 31-10.
New Zealand vice-captain Tyla Nathan-Wong declared, “It was awesome, we dug really deep over the two days. We gelled really well and played for each other and the squad members at home. It came down to belief and hard work and we worked them hard in the middle and then hit the ball wide which worked well.”
Day Two – Men’s results
Final Fiji 21 New Zealand 5 Semi-finals Fiji 24 Samoa 12 Australia 14 New Zealand 19
Quarter-finals Fiji 49 Tonga 7 Samoa 31 Cook Islands 7 Australia 59 American Samoa 0 New Zealand 54 Papua New Guinea 0
5th– 8th semi-finals Tonga 29 Cook Islands 5 American Samoa 10 Papua New Guinea 27
9th – 12th semi-finals Solomon Islands 14 Tahiti 12 New Caledonia 0 Niue 19
3rd-4th play-off Samoa 33 Australia 7
5th-6th play-off Papua New Guinea 26 Tonga 17
7th-8th play-off Cook Islands 36 American Samoa 19
9th-10th play-off Solomon Islands 19 Niue 14
11th-12th play-off New Caledonia 31 Tahiti 10
Day Two – women’s results
Fiji 50 Tonga 0, Australia 33 Cook Islands 0, New Zealand 40 Samoa 0, Fiji 50 Cook Islands 0, Australia 45 Samoa 0, New Zealand 29 Papua New Guinea 7, Fiji 31 Samoa 0, Australia 31 Papua New Guinea 0, New Zealand 52 Tonga 0.
Women’s Final New Zealand 31 Australia 10
Other Women’s Placings
3 Fiji 4 Samoa 5 PNG 6 Cook Islands 7 Tonga
- Oceania Rugby