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The ding-dong carries on

Rodney Duthie
Friday, February 07, 2014

WHEN it comes to sevens rivalry, none more rates higher than Fiji and New Zealand.

The series this year has seen the old foes battle twice — Fiji winning in Dubai (44-0) and then Gordon Tietjens' men getting one back in Las Vegas (12-5).

The ding-dong battle moves to Wellington this weekend and the Westpac Stadium will provide a perfect setting for another clash.

The Cake Tin has been the venue for some epic clashes over the years since the series began.

The first being in 2000 where New Zealand had this year's tournament ambassador Jonah Lomu in its ranks. Fiji beat the star-studded Kiwis 24-14.

Over the years, the two sides have met on another three occasions — 2004 NZ 33-15 Fiji, 2007 Fiji 31-0 NZ and 2012 NZ 24-7 Fiji.

National 7s coach Ben Ryan said while there had been some "amazing games" between the two countries, the fact remains Fiji needed to reach the cup stages to stay in the series race.

"They are our closest rivals geographically and in performance terms so it's very important that we start the tournament well," he said.

"It's not all doom or gloom for whichever team loses the first game and I think half the world series tournament winners have lost games in their groups.

"The tournament is not over after game one but it certainly gives the winner a head start in chances for success this weekend."

Ryan said they needed to do well this weekend to stay in touch with series leaders South Africa and New Zealand.

"It's important to make sure that New Zealand and South Africa don't get further ahead of us," Ryan said.

"Obviously, we can't control what they do in the tournament so it's important that we need to get to the cup on Saturday (tomorrow).

"We need to do as well as we possibly can.

"It's a tough competition and there are far better resourced sides then us for all the reasons that have been made public over the last few months.

"We are just getting on with it and the players have worked hard to try and win this weekend."

Fiji's other pool matches are against Spain and France.

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