Saturday January 19, Sigatoka, Fiji: In the Cup final, a player from the Police sevens team, attacks the Tabadamu line in the 2019 McDonals Coral Coast Sevens men's final. (Photo credit Coral Coast Sevens facebook page).

The Police Rugby sevens side; laced with seasoned Fiji 7s stars, have defended their McDonalds Coral Coast Sevens title in style over tournament favorites Tabadamu, 17-0.

The defending champion mastered the wet conditions at Lawaqa Park, with tries to Rusiate Matai, Necani Nawaqadau and Filipe Sauturaga, with Sauturaga named the Campese-Serevi Medal Winner as Player of the Tournament (sponsored by Sigatoka River Safari).

The game was also filled with indiscipline from both sides, with Tabadamu having three players sent to the bin and Police two. Defence was prioritized by each team – due to the conditions – and being a Cup final, any mistake was capitalized on.

Police defend Coral Coast Sevens title in style

The defending champions had players like former Fiji Sevens stars Livai Ikanikoda, Keponi Paul and Kitione Taliga, along with Rusiate Matai and Meli Kurisaru.

On the other hand, Tabadamu had a strong lineup themselves. Samu Bale, Jale Vota, Manu Laqai, Leo Naikasau and Beniamino Vota; all talented and vying for another title (to add to their recent accomplishments on the Island). With so many stars on the field, it should have been an incredible occasion to display their skills but, the heavy rain dampened the spirits of the many that packed the grandstand.

Still, many braved the rain on the embankment to watch the games on Day Four, right until the Final whistle.

In the Semifinals, Police overcame the Aussie Development side, which had the likes of Sam Meyers, Jeral Skelton, Simon Kennewell and Matt Hood representing ‘green and gold’. On the other side of the draw, Tabadamu stood tall to beat home town favorites Ratu Filise, who had the services of Fiji Sevens playmaker Amenoni Nasilasila.

In the women’s competition, Fijiana Development – with returning Sevens stars who missed out in the opening two rounds of the HSBC Sevens Series season – showed their experience under new coach Saiasi Fuli. They held off a strong challenge by Marist Seahawks in the final 22-5.

To reach the final, Fijiana Development overcame Scion Woo, with Asinate Serevi; daughter of Sevens maestro Waisale Serevi, in the semifinals. Marist Seahawks did well, defeating the 2018 defending champions, Striders.

2019 McDonalds Coral Coast Sevens results:

  • Cup: Police 17 Tabadamu 0
  • Plate: First Light Taveuni 15 Sigatoka River Safari Henibua 10
  • Bowl: NFA 12 Dratabu 10
  • Shield: BLK 17 Suva Stallions 15

Coral Coast Sevens – the last word

It was another great tournament which was very well organized (as expected. Despite the poor weather conditions over the four-day tournament, the CC7s tourney turned out well.

LWOR sevens specialist Jovilis Waqa spoke to some of the women who played in the tournament. They all remarked how much they enjoyed their games. The Youth tournament and women’s competition ran on Days one and two. Although, they only have one grievance that the organizers should address next year. That is the availability of more women-friendly facilities. With International teams competing each year, it would serve to improve the facilities, if Lawaqa Park is to again host the event.

On the field, the action was sublime with breathtaking Fijian rugby sevens on display. Unorthodox at times – and the conditions did not allow for a free running final – but very exciting to watch. Tuva Youth retained their Youth title while showcasing some great young talents. This included Waisale Serevi Jnr, who showed his wonderful skillset that reminds you of his maestro [his Dad, who was on hand as usual].

Tournament ambassador Bryan Habana was brilliant, telling all that he felt very much at home with the crowd. Fox Sports commentator Sean Maloney was at his usual best in the commentary booth, with the local Fiji TV crew adding glamour to the tournament – especially with their Livestream enjoyed worldwide.

The tournament will get even better, with more players breaking into the international stage. If you are a player or coach, LWOR emplore you to bring your team down to next years tournament. Test how far you can go, alongside some of the best exponents of the game.

Congratualtions to all teams, all winners and to your 2019 Champions, Police.

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LWOR would like to thank the McDonalds Coral Coast Sevens organising committee for all their help in our coverage of the tournament, and the use of their images (sourced from Facebook). We look forward to 2020.

 

“Main photo credit – courtesy of Coral Coast Sevens facebook page”

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