Fiji survived a Blitzboks comeback to claim a 14-12 victory in the fifth-place semi-final in Las Vegas on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Despite an improved showing from their disappointing Cup quarter-final loss to the USA, the Blitzboks were punished for a slow start and ill-discipline. They fought back bravely in the second half and had a chance to win the match late on, but conceded a breakdown penalty.
Fiji started the game strongly, winning the ball from the kick-off and punishing the Blitzboks when Josua Vakurunabili powered through a tackle and reached to score the opening try.
The Blitzboks were then given a boost when a Fijian player was yellow-carded for an intentional knockdown, and the South Africans utilised their numbers advantage when Ryan Oosthuizen stepped through a tackle to score an unconverted try.
However, Fiji were then given an advantage when Impi Visser saw yellow for a high tackle. The Fijians did not waste the opportunity and doubled their lead when Jerry Tuwai set up Kalione Nasoko for their second try, making it 14-5 at half-time.
The Blitzboks ran the subs in the second half, and as he has done throughout the tournament, JC Pretorius made a good impact, showing his pace to skip away from a couple of defenders and score their second try and his third of the weekend.
The South Africans worked incredibly hard on defence, putting in some big hits and getting a last chance to steal a win with a 5m scrum in the closing stages. However, Fiji held their composure on defence, with Tuwai winning a breakdown penalty to allow his side to hoof the ball into touch and progress to the fifth-place final, where they would beat England 19-7.
In the Cup final, the USA thrashed Samoa 27-0 to claim back-to-back Las Vegas titles and move to the top of the World Rugby Sevens Series standings.
After the #USA7s we’re exactly halfway through the #HSBC7s series and it’s @USARugby who are top of the standings. Top four at the end of the series will gain automatic qualification for #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/UsSiXoc9N7
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) March 4, 2019
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