Fiji were crowned the London Sevens champions after beating the Blitzboks 21-17 in the final at Twickenham on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The result sees Fiji extend their streak to seven consecutive wins against the Blitzboks this year and firmly puts them in the inside lane to regain the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens Series title with one tournament – the Paris Sevens – remaining.
These two sides have been fighting for supremacy at the top of the overall series standings from the start of the season, but based solely on form in London this weekend, Fiji had to be considered favourites coming into this specific encounter as they were the only undefeated side left in the tournament.
Fiji made the worst possible start to this all-important final when Sevuloni Mocenacagi was yellow-carded 10 seconds into the game for playing Justin Geduld in the air. South Africa went on the offence and when the ball was swung to Stedman Gans, he skipped his way past multiple defenders for the opening score.
The Blitzboks retained and recycled possession well for the rest of the first half, but their inability to score further points proved costly as Fiji hit back on the stroke of half-time through Joshua Tuisova to level the scores.
The Islanders pulled out all the stops in the second half as their superior skills were put on show in the lead-up to Paula Dranisinukula and Jasa Veremalua’s tries for a commanding 21-12 lead. Ruhan Nel dotted down for South Africa in between those two touchdowns for Fiji.
Blitzboks replacement Zain Davids kept his side’s slender hopes alive with a late try and with mere seconds remaining on the clock, they abandoned the conversion attempt in order to have one last kick-off. But Fiji did well to secure possession and ran the ball out of play to end the game.
Fiji are now seven points clear of the Blitzboks at the summit of the overall standings.