Fiji has won the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton beating defending sevens series champions South Africa 24-17 in the Cup Final at FMG Stadium. Australia finished third after beating New Zealand 8-7 in the Bronze Final with a dramatic penalty drop goal after the final siren.
The Cup Final saw the only two unbeaten teams do battle for the title and concluded two days of action in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ newest city Hamilton. Fiji came from 5-17 down at half-time to finish strongly in the second half to the delight of its fans and leave South Africa as runner-up for the second tournament running.
The win sees Fiji move up to third in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rankings with South Africa extending its lead over second placed New Zealand to eight points despite the loss in the final as New Zealand finished fourth.
HSBC Player of the Final was Fijian flyer Alasio Sovita Naduva who scored three of Fiji’s tries in the four tries to three-try victory.
Commenting after the final whistle Fiji coach Gareth Baber said, “We did struggle at times in the tournament and won some close games but in the final in the second half we decided we were going to play better that South Africa and we did.”
“The teams character, belief and their love of their country came through and we knew we had the ability to score from anywhere. We had to believe in that and we got momentum in the tackle and in the contact areas.”
Earlier in the day in the quarter-finals a revitalized Samoa was extremely unlucky not to beat Fiji who scored the winning try through Eroni Sau after the siren had signaled full-time. England gave hosts New Zealand a huge scare in their clash losing 12-19 while HSBC Sydney Sevens winners Australia were too strong for Kenya 33-10, and South Africa beat Scotland 22-0.
In the semi-finals in a tension packed match Fiji edged hosts New Zealand 14-12 in a thriller in front of a packed stadium. In another action packed match South Africa gained revenge for the loss to Australia in the final in Sydney by winning 24-5.
The 5th place play-off saw Samoa beat Kenya 19-15 while USA beat Argentina 31-12 in the Trophy final.