South Africa’s run of six consecutive victories in the World Sevens Series came to an end in the Singapore leg, but the Blitzboks still lead the standings with 98 points.
Neil Powell’s side lost in the cup quarter-finals on Sunday to Fiji, who produced a powerful performance to see off New Zealand 28-17 and clinch victory.
The Blitzboks are now 15 points ahead of second-placed Australia with four events remaining, with the Canada Sevens in Vancouver next weekend, where SA have been in drawn in Pool C with the Australians, Spain and the tournament hosts.
Fiji stormed to an early lead in Sunday’s cup final at the National Stadium and never looked back as converted tries by Vuiviawa Naduvalo, Waisea Nacuqu and Joseva Talacolo gave them a 21-0 advantage at half time.
New Zealand narrowed the deficit after the break with tries by Regan Ware, Moses Leo and Caleb Tangitau, but a second try for Naduvalo ensured the Fijians claimed their first Series title since their 2020 triumph in Australia.
A tenth try in a single tournament! 🔟
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) April 10, 2022
The Pacific Islanders lost their opening game to Ireland on Saturday but bounced back to top their pool with victories against France and Japan.
Fiji then eliminated SA 19-14 in the quarters and came from behind to beat Australia 19-12 in the semi-finals.
They became the first team to win the Singapore Sevens three times after their victories in the city-state in 2006 and 2018.
Competing in the World Sevens Series for the first time since their victory in the Canada Sevens in March 2020, New Zealand came up short after reaching the final with a perfect record.
The All Black Sevens recorded victories against Argentina, Scotland and Wales in the pool stage, before eliminating Samoa 22-14 in the quarter-finals and Ireland 22-19 in the semis.
Australia finished third in Singapore with a 21-19 victory over Ireland in a hard-fought bronze medal match.
© Agence France-Presse