5 October, 2014, 12:00 am
THE Vodafone Fiji 7s side won the Oceania 7s tournament in Noosa, Australia last night.
The Ben Ryan-coached side defeated New Zealand 21-5 in the final.
Fiji overcame Samoa 24-12 while New Zealand defeated Australia 19-14 in the semi-final. In the quarter-final, Fiji conceded its first points of the tournament in the 49-7 win over Tonga.
Against the Kiwis, coach Ryan fielded an experienced team which included skipper Nasoni Roko at rover, winger Isikeli Vuruna and Manueli Laqai.
The Gordon Tietjens-coached New Zealand which had the services of Fijians Tomasi Cama and Lote Raikabula started well and scored the opening try through playmaker Cama to lead 5-0.
Fiji managed to gain some possession and bounced back immediately with a try under the post to Sitiveni Waqa to lead 7-5 at the break.
Vatemo Ravouvou and replacement Niko Verekauta scored a try each in the second spell to seal the win.
Fiji was superb in defence and managed to fend off a late challenge from New Zealand to claim the title.
Coach Ryan was pleased with the win and praised the players for the grand performance.
He said the win had set a good platform for the national side in the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series opener at the Gold Coast next weekend.
Ryan will use his “A” team at the Gold Coast 7s which starts on Saturday.
“Well done to the team for playing so well last two days and winning final 21-5 vs. NZ. Set the benchmark for Gold Coast team,” Ryan posted on Twitter after the win yesterday.
Skipper Roko was delighted with the result and praised Ryan for guiding the team well.
“We worked very hard this week to ensure we were ready and coach Ben Ryan has done a good job with the boys,” Roko told Oceania Rugby.
“We knew New Zealand would be very physical and they are always hard to beat. Luckily we have some good talent and in Niko we have some very fast speed out wide.”
Samoa defeated Australia 33-7 in the 3rd/4th place playoff.
Meanwhile, the Telecom Fijiana finished third in the women’s competition, which was won by New Zealand after it defeated Australia 31-10 in the final.
The Fereti Verebula-coached Papua New Guinea finished the tournament in fifth place after beating Tonga 26-17 and has qualified as the best placed non-core Sevens World Series team to play at the 2015 HSBC Hong Kong and Wellington legs
Tonga finished in sixth place and qualified as the second best non-core team and also won qualification to the Hong Kong 7s.
“It’s very good as we did not expect this as we have many new players in our team,” PNG captain Hubert Tseraha told Oceania Rugby.
“But they stepped up and replaced the missing experienced boys who were not here.
“Playing in Hong Kong and Wellington is something we had not really thought about until today.
” It will be a big step up but for rugby in PNG this is a really a big boost.”