The Hong Kong Sevens has turned on another ‘rugby sevens extravaganza’ with sensational matches on Day Three, as Fiji wins a third triple crown title–to add to the phenomenal record.
They came here as defending champions and won their hat-trick, with South Africa left still chasing that maiden HK7s victory. The South Sea Islanders walloped South Africa 22-0 to claim their 17th title.
Australia’s resurgence was rewarded with a bronze medal, ahead of the ‘dark horse’ United States, who finished fourth. The Kiwis finished fifth, with Scotland grabbing the Challenge Trophy and Japan finishing 13th.
In the concurrent Men’s Sevens Series Qualifier tournament, Spain retained their core status spot, with a well deserved victory.
Day Three: The LOWDOWN
Fiji Wins Third Triple Crown
It had to be their ‘Home away from Home’ where Fiji finally had to deliver their best against the mighty Blitzbok who have been outstanding all season. They played in their seventh final but Fiji had other plans, whipping the South Africans 22-0.
Fiji’s win has earned them their third triple crown in Hong Kong dating back to 1990. Their first triple crown was from 1990-1992/1997-1999 and now, from 2015-2017. A terrific achievement–Vinaka!
Sevuloni Mocenacagi opened the scoring in today’s Cup final, from a Osea Kolinisau turnover near their 22 meter line. The try was unconverted for a 5-0 lead. Another find of the season has been Mesulame Kunavula, who grabbed the second try minutes later. The action was intense, with more ball going the reigning champions way. Going to the breather, Fiji leading 10-0.
South Africa Below Their Best in Final
‘Player of the Final’ Kalione Nasoko (see below image) opened the gates in the second with a sprint from halfway to extend the lead. Vatemo Ravouvou converted the try and turned architect for the final try with Nasoko again finishing. The Boks gave their all but it wasn’t to be as the Islanders held on to win 22-0.
Fiji woke in the semis against Australia and all the signs were their that it was going to be their tournament to lose. They kept their shape both on offense and defense. Their patient build up was key to their success as they had that edge even when tested. From their first game on Friday, all the signs were there and the rugby pundits knew that.
DHL Player of the Final – Kalione Nasoko
Aussies Steal Late Winner to Claim Bronze
The Aussies stole it from the death from the Americans to claim the bronze in Hong Kong with a 26-19 victory. Mike Friday will be scratching his head as to why he subbed Perry Baker, only for the Aussies to score the winner in the corner. Perry Baker has had an outstanding tournament with rookie Aussie Tim Anstee.
The United States were unlucky in the semifinals losing to South Africa in extra-time 29-24. It was a dramatic fight back from the Americans as Perry Baker leveled the scores at the hooter with Madison Hughes missing the conversion to take it to overtime. On the other hand, the Aussies were no match for the fired up Fijian side losing in the first semifinal 33-12.
New Zealand Claim Fifth place
The Kiwis withstood the Los Pumas onslaught in the second half to claim fifth place 10-7.It as a physical encounter with both teams chasing valuable series points. Playing with only nine men the Kiwis should be applauded for their effort this weekend.
Canada who was unlucky against Fiji in their Cup quarters lost to Argentina 20-19 in their semifinals. New Zealand overcame England in the other semis 21-7. Both teams lost their quarter finals game to the United States and South Africa respectively. The Kiwis looked really good over the weekend especially their debutant Joe Ravouvou. The English though were disappointing and will be looking for redemption in Singapore.
Scotland Wins Challenge Trophy
Mark Robertson bid farewell to Hong Kong in his last game as he is retiring at the end of the season from sevens rugby helping the Scots to a 21-19. Dougie Fife led from the front with Scott Wight and Joe Nayacavou. They are building for London where they will defend the title they won against all odds last season. Kenya will head back to the drawing board as they look for way to defend their Singapore title.
Scotland survived a French onslaught in the semifinal to book their Challenge Trophy final spot with Kenya humbling Russia 24-5. The Russians are gripping tightly to their core status spot with Japan lingering at the bottom with three tournaments to go.
Kameli Soejima Secures 13th Place for Japan
It was a Fijian combo down the tramline for Japan with Jone Naikabula inter-passing with Soejima before he sprinted away to score the winner against Wales. Both teams were locked at 21-all when the hooter sounded and it was left to the Fijians to show their flair to delight the crowd and earn the victory. With every point in the series meaning more for the Japanese now the win was a major booster leading to Singapore. The Japanese need more points now to overcome Russia to keep their core status spot for next season.
Wales overcame Samoa in their semifinals 26-12 to book a spot in the playoff finale. Japan outclassed Asian neighbors South Korea 36-7 to earn their spot. It was a good tournament for the Samoans in Hong Kong and will take that with them heading to Singapore. Japan have unearthed a new sevens sensation in Siasifo Lisala in Hong Kong too.
DHL Player of the Tournament
Hong Kong Sevens Dream Team
Well they all deserve to be there with special mention for Vladamir Ostronshko of Russia, Siasofi Lisala of Japan and Joe Ravouvou of New Zealand.
World Sevens Series Table
South Afica continues their grip at top of the table, with Fiji closing in [marginally]. England drops down to third, with Japan still at the bottom–they will have just three tournaments to raise themselves up above the ‘cut-off point’..
Spain Retain Core Status Spot
They came, they saw and they conquered the rest of the 11 teams chasing that one spot. Like that epic final in Monaco for the 2016 Rio Olympic Qualifier, the Spaniards made it look memorable. Another year of heartache for the Germans though, as they came so close–yet so fa–losing again, 7-12.
The Spaniards had depth and experience in the squad with Ignacio Martin and Pablo Martin leading the charge, with Pablo Fuentes and Plo Pla. The Pablo Feijoo coached side overcame Papua New Guinea in the semifinals, with Germany outplaying the Chileans in the other.
Off To Singapore Sevens for Easter Festivities Next Week
All core teams now head to Singapore next week, April 15-16. Held over the Easter weekend, the crowd will be festive but all players need to stay away from the chocolate. The main prize is still up for grabs–South Africa are not yet safe, so teams like Fiji and England must look to dominate while others hope to ‘bounce back’ stronger than the Easter Bunny.
Join Last Word On Rugby from next Saturday, as we continue the World Series.
“Main Photo Credit”