Story and Images by Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
March 6, 2016 Las Vegas, NV (ISN) – Fiji came back from a 15 pt deficit at half time to defeat Australia 21-15 to successfully defend last year’s Las Vega Sevens Series Championship in round five of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
Fiji celebrates thier 2015-2016 HSBC Las Vegas win – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Australia looked to have control early in the game as Australia would strike first on a try by Sam Myers. Shocked Fijian fans would witness Aussy Captain Ed Jenkins and Cameron Clark add to the half time 15-0 lead. Missed conversions by Australia would ultimately make the difference in the final outcome.
Australia did thier job well in the first half shutting down the potent Fijian side 15-0 – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Fiji, having not won since the opening stop in Dubai this year, were poised to go down once again, but regrouped at halftime with two trys by Kitone Taliga, one from Savenaca Rawaca, and three much need conversions by Vatemo Ravouvou that made the difference on a blustery, windy day that 25,981 fans saw play havoc with the kicking game on both sides.
Fiji turned the corner in the second half to comeback with 21 straight points to take the champonship – Erich Eichhorn image (www.allsportmedia.ca)
Fijian Captain Osea Kolinisau would comment on his teams win in an interview with World Rugby. “One week after Cyclone Winston struck we went back into camp and all the players said we were going to play here in Vegas.”
“I reminded the boys this week that we needed to remember the people back home who were victims of Cyclone Winston and that we needed to give them something to be happy about after all the devastation. To come up against Australia like that was tough, but we said 10 minutes is a long time and all we needed to do was to get back the ball to have a chance to win.”
For Fiji, this is there second consecutive Las Vegas Sevens Series victory in a contest dominated by New Zealand with twelve Las Vegas wins dating back to 1999-2000 season. Fiji has won three.
The 2015/16 season carries added significance with many of the teams competing on the series having qualified for sevens’ debut at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. The top four-ranked sides at the end of the 2014/15 series booked their place through the series – namely Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and England on behalf of Team GB.