The Mana Whey Coral Coast Sevens Men’s competition kicked off in style at Lawaqa Park, in Sigatoka, Fiji. The crowd came out in force, taking advantage of the free admission–a first for Fiji at an International Invitational Tournament. With wonderful local spirit carrying the teams over the day, women’s side Telecom Mokosoi retained their title, as Taveuni surprises all.
For the shadow Fijiana side, today was the true test. Telecom Mokosoi defeated Japan 42-7 to retain their 2016 title with positive play, and a professional attitude. Japan though will be happy with the speedy Mayo Shizu taking out the Women’s ‘Player of The Tournament’ award. Striders walked away with the Plate, after overcoming Wardens 20-7.
In the men’s side of the draw, for many the odds on favorites were Saunaka. Drawn in Pool D up against Taveuni, by days end, those predictions would be reversed. The game of sevens again proved that attitude played a big part in the sport.
Telecom Mokosoi Retains Title
The shadow Fijiana side was flawless in the final as they scored six converted tries to beat Japan. The 42-7 victory was the perfect end to their preparation before heading to Sydney. Like the Japanese they were using the tournament as their final preparation before the Sydney Sevens.
The seniors in the side were a class above the rest, from the kicking and distribution of Lavenia Tinai, to the leadership of Ana Maria Roqica and the straight running of Rusila Nagasau. It was a delight to watch. However, don’t take anything away from the Japanese. They played with their hearts. Missing some big names like Marie Yamaguchi and Chiharu Nakamura, they gave it their all.
In the Cup Semifinals
Telecom Mokosoi was too strong for Nadi Blazers cruising to 48-0 victory. Play maker Lavenia Tinai was in devastating form creating three of the tries while grabbing one on her own. Miriama Naiobasali grabbed a hat-trick, with captain Ana Maria Roqica grabbing a double.
On the other hand, Japan had to fight from a 12-0 deficit to overcome Marist Seahawks with a last-minute try. The two teams were locked 19 all, before Japan’s ‘miracle worker’ Mayo Shizu out ran everyone to dart under the posts.
Striders Walk Away with the Plate
Four tries from the Striders side was enough for them to take the Plate home. They overcame Wardens 20-7; as as Wardens scored first, through Vaiti Waqatabu. Striders replied through Reijieli Uluinayau, Mere Moto, Tavaita Rowati and Makereta Tunidau.
Team Striders will head back to the drawing board to work on their weakness heading to the Marist Sevens. Meanwhile, their debutant Milika Tuivanuavou who got injured on Day One will be undergoing rehab, hoping to get back in shape before time and realize her dream on the rugby field.
Day Two – Crest Na Iri Cup Women’s Quarter Finals
Telecom Mokosoi 43 Coastal Owls 0|Marist Seahawks 26 Striders 21|Nadi Blazers 31 Wardens 7|Japan 31 Classic Sound Jillaroos 0|
Plate semifinals: Wardens 26 Coastal Owls 5|Striders 27-0 Coastal Roos|
Trophy Semifinals: Telecom Mokosoi 48 Nadi Blazers 0|Japan 26 Marist Seahawks 19
On Day One of the Men’s competition, the day dawned bright and the stars came out. George Gregan, tournament ambassador, was guest of honour. The huge International media contingent gave the Mana Whey event a higher profile than normal. Would the play on the field match the atmosphere?
Taveuni Surprises All
The First Light Taveuni traveled the furthest [locally] to be in Lawaqa Park. Seldom able to get a chance to rub shoulders with the best, when their team do turn up, they leave no stones unturned. More famous for films like ‘Return to the Blue Lagoon’ starring Milla Jovovich, today they made their village truly proud.
The boys from the Garden Island humbled the visiting German side in the opening game, 10-14. They then continued their form in their next two games, as Taveuni then outplayed Saunaka 19-0. Saunaka had four former national representatives in their mix; including Pio Tuwai. Also running with Saunaka was Waisea Nacuqu, who went to Dubai and Cape Town but had been dropped from the Wellington squad.
Capping off their perfect day, they defeated Yamacia 24-5 to win Pool D. However, both teams will progress to the Cup quarter finals, as Saunaka and Germany occupied the bottom half of the pool. A surprise, it proves ‘perform on Day One, shine on Day Two’ and Taveuni will need to shine tomorrow.
Army Takes One Over Police
Army had the last say in the Men’s competition on Day One, as they accounted for the defending champs Police. It was another chapter of the rivalry between the two discipline forces, with the boys from Delainabua holding more determination and will, to win it 14-5.
Both teams will progress to the Cup quarters, where everything will be at stake. They will be joined by another disciplined forces team Wardens, who won Pool C. They came through their Pool unscathed, and will be joined by Ratu Filise to bolster their stock even further.
Yasawa Wins Pool B
The Crows Nest Yasawa side won three from three to take out Pool B. The team was put together by Ben Ryan after a tournament on their island. Made famous for it’s tourism, today their understanding of each others game was more valuable than any tourist dollar, and if they can perform again, it will be a credit to .the super-coach Ben Ryan
Uprising, who unearthed Waisea Nayacalevu will join Yasawa in the Cup quarters tomorrow, as the pools runner-up. On the other hand, Uluinakau and Daveta who were the ‘top bets in this pool’ will sadly drop down to the bottom half of the competition. The quality is so good at the CC7’s that you have to be peaking on Day One.
What did you think of that try?
— Fiji Coral Coast 7s (@Coralcoast7s) January 20, 2017
Day One Men’s Results
Pool A : Police 21 BLK Iron Courage 7|Army 19 Outrigger 0|Police 31 Outrigger 7|Army 28 BLK Iron Courage 12|BLK Iron Courage 14 Outrigger 7|Army 14 Police 5
Pool B : Uluinakau Babas 5 Crows Nest Yasawa 26|Shangri-la Daveta 14 Uprising 24|Crows Nest Yasawa 19 Shangri-la Daveta 12|Uprising 12 Uluinakau Babas 0|Yasawa 19 Uprising 0|Uluinakau 12 Daveta 7
Pool C : Hong Kong 12 Coastal Roos 40|Wardens 17 Ratu Filise 0|Wardens 17 Coastal Roos 7|Ratu Filise 19 Hong Kong 5|Ratu Filise 22 Coastal Roos 14|Wardens 45 Hong Kong 5
Pool D : Germany 12 Taveuni 17|Saunaka 10 Yamacia 14|Germany 7 Yamacia 22|Saunaka 0 Taveuni 19|Taveuni 24 Yamacia 5|Germany 12 Saunaka 15
— Fiji Coral Coast 7s (@Coralcoast7s) January 18, 2017
Day Two – Cup Quarter Finals
Army vs Yamacia|Uprising vs Wardens|Yasawa vs Ratu Filise|Police vs Taveuni
So the action will again take place on Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka. And with so much attention from around the world, the pressure will mount. Can Taveuni cope with the favoritism? Only time will tell, as the best prepared teams look to maximize the rewards on offer, here at the Mana Whey Coral Coast Sevens 2017.