MENTAL toughness was the winning element for the victorious Fiji Barbarians at the FIJI Water Centennial International 7s tournament at the ANZ Stadium yesterday.
The Levani Botia-captained side beat Argentina 19-10 during the FIJI Water 7s final. Botia and former national sevens skipper Setefano Cakau played a huge role for the Wardens team, playing as the Babas.
Coach Max Hughes said it was a milestone achievement from his troops.
"We could not have asked for anything better than a win," he said.
"It's mental toughness that won us the game and I thank the Almighty for the victory. Playing international teams was not easy and to win is a bonus for us."
The Babas started the game well with a try to Sevuloni Rakula under the crossbar. Setefano Rasekaia was successful with the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Argentina struggled to contest for possession as the Babas continued to dominate the game, using the Fijian flair to penetrate Argentina's defence.
Winger Leo Naikasau made a break from out wide to set up a try for Abele Yalatalatabua for a 12-0 lead at the interval.
Again, Huges' boys started well in the second spell with veteran Cakau showing his sleek footwork, stepping past two defenders, drawing the opposition before offloading to his skipper Botia who touched down the third try near the cross bar, making it easier for Rasekaia to add the extras.
Argentina bounced back with a try to scrum-half Nicolas Bruzzone. For more than five minutes, the Santiago Gomez Cora-coached side attempted to break the brick wall defence of the Babas. However, they were only successful at the sound of the hooter, scoring their second and final try.
Gomez Cora said it was a learning experience for his boys.
"It's fantastic here, we're pleased to be part of this tournament and I believe this is a good build-up for next week's Gold Coast tournament," the IRB top try scorer said.
The Barbarians trounced France 26-0 during the semi-finals while Argentina edged Westfield Barbarians, playing as Fiji Warriors 14-12 in the other semi-final.