Olympic Sevens champions Fiji and Australia reigned supreme at the 2018 Oceania Rugby Sevens tournament, after two hectic days of competition at the ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji.
The Fiji Airways men’s Fiji Sevens team scored through Waisea Nacuqu in extra-time, to overcome World Cup and Commonwealth Games champions New Zealand 17-12. On the other hand, a great defensive effort by the Aussie girls in the second half, earned them a victory 14-10 over the defending champions New Zealand.
It was a great way to end the two-day tournament, with the vocal local crowd cheering for all the teams that took the field.
Fiji’s third title and fourth Oceania Sevens title to equal the record of Samoa. A dominant era for the local men, the last time an overseas team won in Fiji was 2001, with New Zealand rugby sevens commentator Karl Te Nana a part of that team. In his commentary, he reiterated in his yesterday, that it is one of the toughest places in the world to play (and to win).
The young Australian side with Cassie Staples, Paige McGregor and Mahalia Murphy led from the front and used their experience to rattled the young Black Ferns Sevens side. New talents were unearthed by both sides; like Sariah Paki and Lily Kidd for the Aussies.
— Jill Scanlon (@jdscanlon) November 10, 2018
Pacifica teams earn an invitation to HSBC tournaments
In other results, Fijiana overcame Papua New Guinea 33-5 to finish in third place. Importantly though, the bonus for the losing PNG women is that they will head to the women’s HSBC Sydney Sevens, as the Oceania Rugby invitational side. They will also travel to Hong Kong tournament, to play in the 2019/20 Women’s Sevens Series qualifiers.
Coaching the PNG Women’s team at his first International 7s tourney, Paul Tiejtens said that their goal was to qualify for the Sydney event, and the important HSBC Series Qualifier in Hong Kong.
“There’s been a lot to learn from the tough games we’ve played this weekend. It looks very promising moving forward for the girls to have an opportunity for qualifying on the Circuit,” Tiejtens said in an Oceania Rugby media release. [Paul is the son of sevens-supremo Sir Gordon Tietjens].
Tonga, who were outstanding over the weekend, will be representing Oceania at the men’s HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton, will also play in Sydney the week earlier and will also head to Hong Kong, after finishing fifth this weekend.
However, as positive as that outcome was, Samoa did even better on Saturday, defeating Australia to claim Bronze. Edging a star-studded Aussie men’s team 14-12, and got a standing ovation from the Pacifica crowd for their efforts.
2016 Olympic Sevens Champions Fiji and Australia reign supreme
With every year the competition keeps growing both in the Men’s and Women’s game. The minnows in the region have grown competing with the best in the region. The regional tournament which has the Olympic, World Cup and Commonwealth Games champions each on hand should be a testament in what the island sides can do with the right incentives.
— Oceania Rugby (@oceaniarugby) November 10, 2018
Women’s rugby sevens has grown in the region too, as it has all over the world. It is good for the game to see teams like the Cook Islands growing in strength each year. They reached the fifth-place playoff – their highest ever finish at the Oceania Rugby Sevens tournament.
Look forward to another exciting tournament next year, with the schedule proving to be perfect timing for every side – not too hot, and just prior to the HSBC World Series beginning.
Focus now shifts to the World Rugby Sevens Series for the big guns. Expect new sensations like Scott Gregory and Benjamin Ratu to shine in the new season.
And crucially, Olympic qualification is the goal for every major side, so it will be an interesting year to watch how the season unfolds.
Your full Day Two Oceania Rugby Sevens results*
*Courtesy of Rugby Redefined Facebook page
After Day One match play, the eight teams below all had a chance to reach their objectives. They would enter Saturday with confidence, if not with a Cup in mind, than to advance their game and to refine teams systems and combinations, ahead of the Dubai Sevens.
Men’s Championship Quarterfinals:
Australia 19 Tonga 7 | New Zealand 47 Papua New Guinea 0 | Samoa 19 Cook Islands 12 | Fiji 38 New Caledonia 0
Preliminary Finals – 9th to 12th place Semifinals: Nauru 14 Vanuatu 28 | Solomon Islands 40 Tuvalu 5
5th to 8th place Semifinals: Tonga 17 Papua New Guinea 14 | Cook Islands 19 New Caledonia 5
Women’s Championship Semifinals:
New Zealand 31 Papua New Guinea 0 | Fiji 0 Australia 29
Womens Preliminary Finals – 5th to 8th place Semifinals: Cook Islands 45 Nauru 0 | Samoa 19 New Caledonia 5
— Oceania Rugby (@oceaniarugby) November 10, 2018
Men’s Championship Semifinals:
Australia 5 New Zealand 14 | Fiji 36 Samoa 7
Oceania Rugby Sevens finals results:
Women’s 5th place playoff: Cook Islands 05 Samoa 10
Men’s 5th place playoff: Tonga 29 Cook Islands 12
Women’s 3rd place playoff: Fijiana 33 Papua New Guinea 5
Men’s 3rd place playoff: Australia 12 Samoa 14
The crowd was then entertained by the Cup finals; firstly, the women’s match-up. Sevens Series title holders Australia would meet a New Zealand development side that had held off all challengers and had earned fantastic experience (that was the main goal for the group).
And to round out the Day Two action, the men’s Cup final was a high-tempo match, between hometown heroes Fiji and New Zealand. In a closely fought match, both teams ended with a pair of tries and the one conversion, after fulltime. It resulted in extra time, and a ‘golden point’ decision being made, once Waisea Nacugu crossed the line.
This will translate into confidence for the Fiji teams. Both had selected strong squads, and the Olympic sevens champions Cup win, and the third place to Fijiana, should result in confidence when the two sides are named to travel to Dubai; and the HSBC Cape Town Sevens a week later.
Follow your Rugby Sevens guru Jovilisi Waqa, as he covers every step of the men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series, as well as coverage of the game in the Pacific.
“Main photo credit”