Dubai jinx continues to haunt Fiji as Blitzboks rule

Pilipo Bukayaro. Picture: Getty Images.

It was a fourth consecutive appearance in the Dubai 7s final for the Blitzboks. They beat the All Blacks 7s 26-19 in the semi-finals, while Ireland proved too strong for the USA, winning 12-7.

Ireland’s wait for a win on the HSBC WRSS tournament went on as James Topping’s side was hit with three first-half tries. Ireland’s dream run ended, following a gutsy 21-5 Cup final defeat.

Ireland had previously reached a decider at the Toulouse 7s last May, including a first ever victory over the Blitzboks at the pool stage, but was beaten by Fiji in the final.

The Irish conceded three first-half tries to trail 21-0 at the interval and despite a try from Jack Kelly could not make significant inroads into the deficit.South Africa’s defence was the key to this victory, while indiscipline cost Ireland a couple of early penalty turnovers and the green machine demonstrated why they are the kingpins in Dubai, winning their fourth consecutive title, with a brace of tries from Shilton van Wyk and Siviwe Soyizwapi.

From 2019 the Blitzboks beat the All Blacks 7s 15-0, USA 42-7, Australia 10-7 and then Ireland this year to defend their Dubai 7s Cup title.

Dubai 7s title evades Fiji

The Fiji Airways men’s 7s side faced yet another disappointment after being knocked out of the Dubai 7s cup quarter-finals. Fiji defeated Argentina 17-12 in its last pool match as Joseva Talacolo starred with his match winning try, but the result was not enough to save the RWC 7s champions which had beaten Uruguay 52-0 in its opener. In its opening match, Fiji sizzled. We played as a team.

We communicated, and did not buckle under pressure. However, Fiji suffered a shocking and disappointing 24-7 defeat to the All Blacks in their second match. The All Blacks 7s lost to Argentina 31-28 in its first pol match. In that match, the All Blacks 7s gave everything they had in the tank. Tries to Akuila Rokolisoa, Moses Leo, Tone Ng Shiu and Caleb Tangitau saw our traditional rival secure a convincing 24-7 victory. Our discipline was an eyesore, and we missed tackles. As usual, our boys faltered under pressure and made numerous mistakes, including knock-ons. The All Blacks took advantage of our discipline and missed tackles.

There was no sign of team play, and our defense opened up, allowing the All Blacks to cross over four times. In our final pool match, Fiji had to beat the Los Pumas by 10 points to progress, but our boys fell five points short of their target. We let away a 10-0 lead, and allowed Argentina to dictate play. The Pumas slowed things down, and frustrated our boys.

Our discipline was our enemy, and we left it too late, playing the chasing game.

The boys knew they needed 10 clear points so they should have been at the top of their game, made solid tackles and defended like men possessed. Joy for the Pumas, but despair for Fiji!

Gollings and Satala’s dream run ends

In 2019 and last year, Fiji finished ninth after beating Canada 40-17 and Spain 31-7.

The Ben Gollings and Viliame Satala combination gave us moments of excitement and joy. Under their leadership, Fiji had qualified for all the semis, and it was the first time for the boys to bomb out from pool play. Perhaps, fans were too used seeing Fiji play in the semis, and we got a rude awakening on Saturday morning as we bid the quarters goodbye. Fiji finished in ninth spot just as last year. Dubai has become our nemesis!

Tough Cape Town 7s pools

Fiji has a mountain ahead and a lot of work is needed to win the Cape Town 7s.

The positive aspect is that our boys won the Melrose Cup in South Africa, and we have the ability to bounce back. Fiji is pooled with Dubai 7s champion South Africa, France, which lost to the All Blacks 7s 20-0 in the Cup quarters. Canada is another unpredictable team.

The likes of Filipe Suguturaga, Alasio Naduva, Vuniviwa Naduvalo, Sevuloni Mocenacagi, Waisea Nacuqu, Joseva Talacolo and Josua Vakurnabili must rise an lead by example.

We need to win restarts, make tackles count, and avoid the sinbin. It lets team morale down.

  • Rajinesh Ishwar Lingam is a regular contributor to this newspaper and the views expressed in this article are his own and not of The Fiji Times.

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