Blitzboks take the lead

THE Wellington tournament in New Zealand was the second leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series which saw the return of France-based player Semi Kunatani into the Vodafone Fiji 7s team.

Wellington was also where the Blitzboks took the lead in the point standings.

The two-day tournament was held on January 30 and 31 at the windy city of New Zealand.

This year’s tournament was labelled by many spectators and Fijian rugby followers as one that had the worst crowd turnout compared with previous years.

Many predicted it to be the last Wellington 7s because of poor crowd turnout.

However the crowd of Fijian supporters stood out during the tournament even though the Westpac Stadium felt empty after the semi-final

The Welington tournament was one that 7s head coach Ben Ryan started slotting in new players. Yamacia’s Sevuloni Mocenacagi got his break replacing Pio Tuwai in their last pool game against Argentina.

It was also the first time for Coach Ryan to take 14 players with him on tour and changing the line-up in the next tournament in Sydney where Viliame Mata and Alifereti Veitokani made the Sydney team after being rested in Wellington.

Fiji went on to win all their pool games defeating Japan 45-7, Wales 33-7 and Argentina 31-10. The Eagle’s wings were clipped in the quarter-finals against Fiji who stole the show 21 over 12 and finally bowing out to Blitzboks with whooping 31-0.

Fiji went on to take the third place defeating Ryan’s formerly coached side- England by 24-12.

New Zealand was the eventual winners beating South Africa 24-21.

Bua man Savenaca Rawaca was one of the top try scorers having scored five tries in the tournament.

Captain “Magnificient” Osea Kolinisau was also named alongside Pio Tuwai on World Rugby’s list of five players to watch in Wellington which included Reiko Ioane of NZ, French Terry Bouhraoua and USA’s Perry Baker.

After Wellington South Africa led the points table by two points with 54 points ahead of Fiji as they settled with 52 points and New Zealand was still trying to find its way to the top with 47 points.

Wellington Team:

Apisai Domolailai; Jasa Veremalua; Semi Kunatani; Isake Katonibau; Pio Tuwai, Amenoni Nasilasila; Osea Kolinisau; Emosi Mulevoro; Sevuloni Mocenacagi; Savenaca Rawaca and Vatemo Ravouvou.

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