Fiji, NZ rule in 7s
12 November, 2017, 12:00 am
Fiji and New Zealand stamped their names as champions after the two-day Oceania Rugby Sevens Championships in Suva last night.
Fiji beat New Zealand 26-0 in the men’s final.
New Zealand dethroned Australia 12-5 in the women’s title.
Meanwhile, the Fiji Airways 7s team started the year with mixed results, but the road to the upcoming HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is a learning curve for national coach Gareth Baber.
And he has a rule.
“We do not lose faith,” he said after his side remained unbeaten in its defence of the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship in Suva yesterday.
The second day yesterday saw matches played in very wet conditions.
The tournament had to be temporarily suspended because of heavy rain, thunderstorms and lightening.
But Baber’s men marshalled their way into the semis with smart rugby led by skipper Jerry Tuwai.
He was the star of the team with his goosesteps and duck-and weave moves through the opposition to help Fiji remain unbeaten.
Fiji beat Cook Islands with 10 tries in the quarter-final.
Try scorers were Tuwai, Vatemo Ravouvou, Kalione Nasoko, Paula Dranisenikula, Josua Vakurinabili (2), Samu Bale and Alekisio Vakarorogo.
In the semis and in slippery conditions, Baber was up against the 7s master tactician, Sir Gordon Tietjens.
The match was fiery, fast and full of slip and slides.
But Fiji had the upper edge with its Olympians Apisai Domolailai, Tuwai and Vatemo Ravouvou.
Fiji scored three tries. Nasoko scored a double to see Fiji leading 10-7. The later showed the Fijian Olympic Games brilliance when Tuwai broke free from within the 22, weaved his way through Samoa before being tackled and Fiji regathered to feed Nacuqu who combined with Ravouvou.
Samoa scored through Neria Fomai, but Nacuqu had the last say when Ravouvou chip kicked to the speeding Nacuqu who raced to the tryline. Fiji won 17-7.
“We defended terribly and for a long time we did not see the ball. We did not lose faith and the players know what they do,” Baber said.
Samoa coach Tietjens said: It was a tough semi-final in difficult conditions.
“My team played well, but Fiji has that little bit of brilliance that they always use it well.
“Sevens is a funny game. It has been positive and we are building.
“Fiji is the hardest place to play in, but the best place to learn from,” the former New Zealand Sevens mentor said.