Fiji claim Wellington 7s crown
February 6, 2010
Fiji celebrate clinching their first IRB Sevens Series title of the season © Getty Images
Fiji clinched the Wellington Sevens title after winning a stunning final of breathless intensity 19-14 against South Sea Island rivals Samoa.
Iliesa Tanivula's side was the outstanding outfit in the tournament, ending England's title defence at the semi-final stage and then going on to clinch a first Wellington crown since 2006. In doing so, they also cut New Zealand's lead in the IRB Sevens World Series to just four points. Samoa move up to third in the table, England are in fourth and Australia's second successive Plate victory moves them up to fifth.
Fiji and Samoa laid on a stunning showpiece final for the packed Westpac Stadium crowd, at the end of which the Fijians emerged as 19-14 winners. Jiuta Lutumailagi and Mikaele Pesamino swapped converted tries in the first 10-minute half to make it 7-7 at the break. Emosi Vucago raced over to edge the Fijians seven ahead shortly after the break and Osea Kolinisau's score put them 19-7 up with two and half minutes to go, but still the Samoans hit back. Pesamino grabbed a second try with a minute to play and only desperate Fijian defence held the Samoans out in the dying seconds.
Earlier, Gordon Tietjens' New Zealand side came up against a superb Samoan display of power and trickery in the first Cup semi-final, Uale Mai inspiring the islanders to a convincing 24-14 win. The Samoans first fought from behind to beat Kenya and then raced out to a commanding lead against the kiwis, Mai scoring two tries in the space of two minutes in the second half to turn the screw.
Fiji then produced a clinical display against injury-hit England to win the second Cup semi 28-19. Youngsters Dan Caprice and Mat Turner produced mature performances for England but Ben Ryan's side turned over too much ball and the Fijians took advantage to come back from an early deficit to build a lead they never relinquished.
Earlier, New Zealand beat Trans-Tasman rivals Australia to reach the Cup semis. In the other half of the draw England had to wait six minutes to register their first score against surprise package Canada, but went on to win 31-0 against the young Cannucks.
For the second tournament running Australia were too strong for South Africa in a Plate final running out 26-22 winners thanks to Clinton Sills' late try. They take 12 points towards their World Series tally. Earlier, the Australians had overwhelmed Kenya and South Africa had too much in the tank for brave Canada, whose youngsters did new coach Morgan Williams proud over the two days and take six points in the World Series.
Wales won their third Bowl trophy of the season with a hard-fought 7-5 victory against France. Earlier, in a replay of last year's Rugby World Cup Sevens final, Wales beat Argentina in the first semi, while France followed victory over the USA with another against Niue.
One week before their home USA Sevens in Las Vegas, Al Caravelli's Eagles beat Tonga to the Wellington Shield. Matt Hawkins, Nick Edwards and Paul Emerick all scored as the US came from behind to win 17-14.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic