(11 Apr 2022, 11:04 +07) Fiji returned to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in style with a stunning victory in Singapore.
The Olympic champions overcame rivals New Zealand 28-17 in a pulsating final on Sunday to claim their first series title since Sydney in January 2020.
Australia beat Ireland 21-19 to clinch a hard fought bronze medal and remain in contention for the 2022 Series title.
Prior to Singapore, South Africa had won all four rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 to date – and six in total in a row – but in Singapore’s National Stadium it was to be Fiji’s day.
Fiji win Singapore Sevens 2022
Having seen their 36-match unbeaten run end on Saturday evening by the USA in the pool stage, the series leaders South Africa lost again on Sunday to Fiji in the cup quarter-finals and then to Argentina in the fifth place semi-final.
Argentina went on to beat the USA 42-24 in a highly entertaining fifth place play-off.
In a repeat of the Tokyo Olympic final, which Fiji won 27-12 last year, matches between Fiji and New Zealand are often classics and Sunday’s final did not disappoint.
Vuiviawa Naduvalo scored his ninth try of the weekend after two minutes to give Fiji the lead in this one with Kaminieli Rasaku converting. Waisea Nacuqu then scored – and converted – Fiji’s second try and they had a healthy 14-0 lead. Just before the break, Joseva Talacolo scored Fiji’s third try, converted by Rasaku, and it got worse for New Zealand as Leroy Carter was yellow carded.
New Zealand needed the first try in the second half to give themselves any hope and a score came from Regan Ware, but was not converted. With Jerry Tuwai pulling the strings, Fiji’s fourth try came through Naduvalo, his 10th of an amazing two days. Rasaku converted.
A Moses Leo try – converted by Akuila Rokolisoa – and then an unconverted effort from Caleb Tangitau for New Zealand made the final score 28-17.
“It was a very good final. We knew we had to keep the ball away from New Zealand and for most of this final we did just that,” said Fiji captain Tevita Daugunu. “The team stuck to the game plan perfectly and with it being Palm Sunday back home we hope this has made our family, friends and supporters happy.”
Player of the Final Naduvalo, who scored 10 tries over the course of the weekend said, “I am so happy, it has taken a lot of sacrifice for me to get this far and that is why I was so emotional during our national anthem. This victory is for my family, they are my ‘why’, they drive me on and I want to make them proud.”
Despite losing in Singapore, South Africa continue to lead the series standings with 98 points from five of the nine rounds played in the 2022 Series. The Blitzboks are ahead of Australia and Argentina who are tied second on 83 points.
All 16 men’s teams now travel to Vancouver for the sixth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 at BC Place on 16-17 April.
Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.