Fiji defeated Samoa 31-24 in final of the Gold Coast Sevens to win round one of the HSBC Sevens World Series and take an early lead in the race for Olympic qualification.
Setefano Cakau scored two tries in the first half before Apisai Domolaili and Semi Kunatani saw the Fijians take a 26-0 lead. But Samoa’s Fautua Otto scored just before half time before Lolo Lui, Siaosi Asofolau and Tila Mealoi narrowed the gap to just two points with four minutes to go.
However, Fiji managed to cement their 2014 Gold Cup Sevens Cup final win when Jasa Veremalua crossed the line to seal the 31-24 final score.
“It was a rollercoaster final but we hung on in there,” said head coach Ben Ryan. “We are by no means the finished product. I feel at home in Fiji and we are grateful for all of the support back in the country.”
Earlier England, who finished the tournament third after two Dan Norton tries secured a 19-0 win over South Africa, recorded their best victory over New Zealand since 2003 as they recorded a 31-7 win against the defending HSBC Sevens World Series and Gold Coast Sevens champions.
It’s the first time the All Blacks Sevens have not made a Cup semi final since Dubai 2011 with England captain Phil Burgess scoring two tries in the win and Simon Amor’s side will now face Fiji in the semi finals.
“We know that New Zealand are so physical and that we had to match them and today, that’s what we did. We matched them and we were clinical,” said Burgess.
“I don’t know how many times we had the ball in their half or their 22 but we came away with points nearly every time.”
New Zealand bounce back to win Plate
New Zealand finished their tournament on a high with a 36-21 win over Argentina. The Kiwis scored five tries in the first half as Joe Webber followed on from his hat-trick earlier today with a try. Argentina tried to claw back in the second half with three tries, including Francisco Merello’s sixtieth World Series try, however New Zealand persevered to take home the Plate.
“We set high standards so to trip up in the quarter final (defeat by England) was massive for us,” said captain DJ Forbes. “It wasn’t ideal but, in terms of the World Series, you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Earlier, Webber scored a hat-trick as New Zealand bounced back from their defeat to England to beat Wales 39-5 in their Plate semi final before Axel Muller scored two tries in the final minute as Argentina beat the hosts 21-17.
“It’s our first tournament of the year and it’s pretty disappointing to come away with not many points but the boys will have to regroup going into Dubai and South Africa,” said Australia captain Ed Jenkins. “With this group and its experience now we just have to work to shut down a game when we get the chance.”
Baker and Test help Eagles win Bowl
Mike Friday picked up some silverware in his first tournament in charge after USA beat France 31-15 in the Bowl final with Zack Test and Perry Baker both adding tries to their tournament tallies.
“We’ve had to learn some harsh lessons this weekend but they’ve played some good rugby today,” said head coach Mike Friday. “There are a lot of good teams here, the level is rising and we need to move from being participants to competitors.”
In the semi finals USA recorded a 33-0 win over Portugal thanks to a hat-trick from Baker while France also left their opponents scoreless, beating Scotland 26-0 in their semi final which featured Virimi Vakatawa’s third try of the day.
Jones fires Canada to the Shield
Canada beat Kenya in the Shield final with a convincing 40-7 victory. Harry Jones scored half of his team’s points in the form of two tries and five conversions. Sean Duke managed a double in just two minutes while Jake Webster and Conor Trainor scored one five-pointer each.
“It’s a little bit toasty but we are pleased to end the weekend with a victory,” said captain John Moonlight. “We’ll learn from this experience and regroup ahead of the next leg in Dubai.”