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Seconds vital in 7s

Kameli Rakoko
Friday, May 16, 2014

VAKABULA ika levu is a Fijian saying that literally means to let the big fish get away after being landed.

Our boys had the All Blacks firmly hooked, netted and secured but the patience of the Kiwis held out as Scott Curry scored the winning try.

A second is a lifetime in sevens rugby and Fiji against New Zealand and England against Australia, found the hard way on their way out of the London Sevens semi-final.

First England scored right at fulltime to bring the score to 12-15 and did not kick the conversion and wanted to make a fresh kick-off.

One second can mean the difference between winning and losing. Sending roars to thousands of people in front of their televisions in one country. Groans and smashing of broken glasses in thousands others in another country.

Two seconds was all it took for Fiji to hold on much longer in defence and they would have stopped the powerful Kiwi machine. But the referee had blown his whistle awarding New Zealand a penalty. With the fulltime hooter well and truly sounded, a superfit Curry had to stretch every sinew of his muscle to control that winning try against Fiji giving the Kiwis the 12-10 win.

It was a gallant Fiji effort. A great game of rugby fit for a final and a great see-sawing battle that saw both teams score two tries.

For Fiji to come so close augurs well with our side in view of preparations for the future.

Because coach Ben Ryan tested his first line-up on how far they could go and it also gave them opportunities to learn from new situations when they were boxed in without any way out.

Perhaps a long kick for touch instead of just booting it downfield is an option not often used just to relieve pressure and gives time to talk things, but rather gives the opposition a chance for lineout throw.

It's a much more effective but unused tactic just to nudge the ball when it went past the opposition line of defence, dive on the ball to secure it and twist on the ground to offload to a teammate in support.

It also applies to ball being kicked ahead in the case of Benito Masilevu in the quarter-final. Instead of kicking ahead, the best way to go about it is to dive and secure the ball and pass it to a supporting player while lying on your back, crouching or rising on your knees.

Masilevu finally came out of his cocoon and showed glimpses of his old form with some try-saving tackles and a try in the semi-final.

Rugby is a revolving game and old attacking tactics like the Ella Brothers' invention, the loop or double up in set pieces or open play can break the defensive line. The variations from it are numerous and enough to confuse the opposition.

The double up between rover and winger have proven to be match winners in big matches and it is one that Donasio Ratubuli and his winger would be worthwhile remembering in future games.

The rover does not always have to create gaps by holding on too long with the ball. In the double up the winger receives the ball early, runs in an angle inside to draw the defence on one way while the rover goes around his back, receives the ball and scoots the other direction.

In the other play-off, England won 26-19 and the level of fitness or preparation back home tells the difference between Fiji and New Zealand who came back from the death to win the final.

Down 21-0 in the final against Australia, It was captain courageous DJ Forbes who began the great comeback, rally fighting tooth and nail to level 21-21 at halftime and ended with a 47-33.

They created history by becoming the first team to win back to back victories in the same leg of the competition while the Commonwealth Games medal gold medal is already beckoning to them.

Under Sir Gordon Tietjens the Kiwis were absolutely fascinating to watch in action as they performed like a well-oiled machine. Carrying tired bodies and they struggled on with sheer guts.

Tietjens has changed his team's sevens style from the physical straight up to that of keeping the ball alive by staying out of contact and resort to rucks only when out of option.

While we did not win the prize we can be rest assured that Fiji is the only team to have a good measure of the Kiwis. We lost to them by a conversion in Scotland and with the same margin in London.

Emosi Mulevoro will have to work much more on that goal kicking duty as Vatemo Ravouvou has proven to have a more accurate kicking technique.

Famed English poet and playwright William Skaespear had almost every situation of life covered in his volumes of poems and plays.

Any worries or disappointment about our performance regarding our future, we can quote him on one of his plays as "Much Ado About Nothing".

The aspirations of the Fijians and English to win their own tournament at Twickenham and disappointments in the semi-final as just a "Midsummer Night's Dream".

As teams like France, Canada, Scotland, Samoa and Australia are already up in the tempo, the Vodafone Fiji team is still very much in the running for the Rio gold. It is our "pound of flesh" that we must desperately and diligently seek at all costs.

From now on until Rio we should leave no stones unturned in our preparations.

"The Readiness is All."

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