Glorious Fiji win Hong Kong Sevens crown
Story and Photo: www.irbsevens.com
A rampant Fiji team ran in five superb tries to New Zealand's four to win the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 35-28 and close the gap at the top of the HSBC Sevens World Series to just two points.
Waisea Nayacalevu scored each side of half time as an inspired and emotional Fijian team seized the initiative early on and rarely gave it up to clinch a first triumph in Hong Kong since 2009.
For captain Setefano Cakau, who was in inspired form in the final, it was his first Cup victory in Hong Kong.
"For me it is the first time I have played in and won a Cup final here," Cakau said after lifting the Cup.
"I have been here for six years and it is my first victory as captain so I thank the boys because I know they worked very hard this afternoon.
"It was our mission to win and now we will keep building on it for next week. I know it is another tournament and a big task ahead of us so we will regroup and work on what is ahead of us in Japan."
Day three highlights
In reaching their fifth Cup final of the season New Zealand kept their lead at the top of the World Series on 111 points, but the Fijians have cut that lead to just two points.
"We are disappointed, you never want to lose a final, especially in a place like this," said New Zealand captain DJ Forbes.
"But fair play to them, they came out firing. Ultimately it is about the World Series, so it was pleasing to get some points out of this, and for a young team with some guys who have never played here before I am really proud."
Earlier, Fiji become the first side through to the Cup semi finals after beating Argentina 26-7 thanks to Metuisela Talebula's fifth try in Hong Kong before Dan Norton scored twice to book England's place alongside the islanders.
Norton had scored early in the second half to become the season's leading try scorer, before running the length of the field to snatch a dramatic 14-12 victory at the death against Australia.
USA Sevens champions Samoa lost to South Africa 27-14 in the third semi thanks to two tries from Cornal Hendricks, whilst two tries from Ardie Savea put Gordon Tietjens' side through by beating Wales 31-7.
Silverware for Samoa and Kenya
Samoa left it late to beat Argentina 12-10 in the final of the Plate to lift some silverware at the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens after Paul Perez scored a hat-trick for the USA Sevens champions in their 36-7 semi final victory against RWC Sevens champions Wales.
Argentina beat Australia 21-12 to reach the Plate final thanks to tries from Martin Chiappesoni, Agustin Migliore and Diego Palma.
In the Bowl, Kenya came from 12-0 behind to beat USA 14-12 in the final after they had earlier beaten France 29-0 in the semis and USA had proved too strong for Scotland, winning 28-14.
Day two highlights
Day 1 and 2 round-up
Pool A (SAM, ENG, ARG, KEN)
USA Sevens champions Samoa ended proceedings on day with a 14-12 victory against Ben Ryan's England in the Pool A decider.
Paul Perez scored on the stroke of half time before Alafoti Fa'osiliva's effort in the second half, but it was Tom Mitchell's missed conversion after Rob Vickerman had opened the scoring that proved decisive.
Stephan Betham's side began their Hong Kong Sevens campaign with a 19-7 victory against Kenya thanks to tries from Ken Pisi, Paul Perez and Alatasi Tupou before Afa Aiono scored twice in their 27-0 victory against Argentina.
England are fourth in the World Series standings and got off to a winning start in front of the ex-pat crowd, beating Argentina 19-10 thanks to tries from Dan Norton, Rob Vickerman and Mat Turner.
On day two, Norton completed a hat-trick, taking him level with Frank Halai on 27 tries for the season, as Ben Ryan's side held on to a narrow 21-17 victory against Kenya.
Argentina finished third after beating Kenya 19-7.
Pool B (NZL, RSA, WAL, USA)
Current Series leaders and defending Hong Kong Sevens champions New Zealand made it three wins from three after beating South Africa 19-10 in their final pool match to progress to the quarters as Pool B winners.
Earlier, Gordon Tietjens' side came from 7-0 behind against Wales to win 24-7 after defeating USA 29-5 thanks to another impressive performance from the influential Tomasi Cama on day one.
The 2008/09 World Series winners South Africa beat reigning RWC Sevens champions Wales 10-0 in the second Pool B match, the day's penultimate match, thanks to tries from Boom Prinsloo and Cecil Afrika, before Afrika scored their third try in their 15-7 victory on day two against USA.
Dan Smith and Richard Smith both scored two tries, and Alex Walker kicked 12 points as Wales finished third in Pool B after a convincing 42-7 victory against USA.
Pool C (FJI, AUS, FRA, SCO)
Fiji defeated Australia 22-5 and France 26-12 on day to maintain their 100% record and finish as Pool C winners. Metuisela Talebula was the hero, scoring two tries in both victories.
In their opening match, Isikeli Tulwainunu Vuruna scored two of Fiji's seven tries as the side currently lying second in the World Series beat Scotland 39-5.
Allan Fa'alava'au scored Australia's second hat-trick of the tournament, as they beat Scotland 29-14 to maintain their 100% record after Greg Jeloudev had scored their first against the Dubai Sevens runners-up France in a 31-10 victory.
Scotland finished third in Pool C after coming from 12-0 behind at half time against France, as Sean Kennedy scored with the last play of the match and Colin Gregor kicked the crucial conversion in the 14-12 victory.