Both teams remained unbeaten over the weekend and were clearly the best teams in their respective events as the scores in the finals suggest. Australia beat Tonga 50-0 in its final whilst Fijiana beat Samoa 55-0.
Australia Too Strong
Under interim coach Tim Walsh Australia were superb over the two-day tournament. Aggressive at the breakdown and clinical at the restarts and with ball in open play they scored 138 points in their three matches on finals day and conceded no tries or points.
Standout players were skipper Ed Jenkins, Greg Jeloudev and Tom Cusack along with Jesse Parahi who was playing his last sevens event before taking up a Super Rugby contract. Attracting much attention also was 18-year-old newcomer Henry Hutchison whose pace and footwork marks him as a star of the future.
Australian captain Ed Jenkins declared after the victory, “After the disappointment of not qualifying through the World Series in London we have put in five months of preparation. We knew we had the chance to qualify but we lost our coach recently and credit to Tim Walsh the women’s coach who stepped in and has got us to this point and winning the event.”
“Now that we have qualified we can start to think properly about Rio. We can now plan the coming season that starts in Dubai soon but it is exciting times for sevens in Australia. One thing for sure the Rio tournament is going to be very tough but to be a part of it is tremendous for the team.”
The surprise of the day was Tonga men who easily beat Samoa in the semi-finals 41-5. It was an impressive performance from Tonga and just reward for a team whose form continued to build and improve as the tournament went on. Its second place in the tournament means it qualifies for the final World Rugby Olympic qualifying tournament in 2016.
For Samoa, who had looked like a real threat to Australia after Day 1, it was its worst performance of the weekend. Some consolation is the fact that by beating Papua New Guinea in the 3rd-4th play-off it will join Tonga in the 2016 qualifier. Either Tonga or Samoa could easily still end up in Rio de Janeiro.
Fijiana Continue to Rise
The Fijian women were the shining stars of their tournament and had pace, physicality and patterns of play that were too sophisticated for its opposition. Fijiana beat Papua New Guinea 43-0 in its last pool match on Day 2 before beating the same opposition 58-0 in the semi-final.
Starring for Fijiana were Rebecca Tavo, Litia Naiqato and the dominating presence around the field of Rusila Nagasau who scored four tries in the final.
Delighted Fijiana captain Anna Maria Roquica said, “Firstly we have to thank all our supporters and of course our coaches who really believed in us. We worked really hard over the last 8 weeks at home to get here and we are very happy.”
“We are so pleased to qualify for the Olympics but we know we have to improve our fitness and skills further. Importantly we have to keep believing in ourselves.”
Samoa showed great promise and have improved markedly and by finishing second won a spot in the women’s World Rugby Olympic qualifying tournament in 2016. Joining them courtesy of beating Papua New Guinea in the 3rd place play-off will be a delighted Cook Islands who were the surprise package of the women’s tournament.
Day 2 Men’s Results
QF1: Tonga 47 Solomon Islands 0
QF2: Samoa 59 Nauru 0
QF3: Papua New Guinea 19 Cook Islands 7
QF4: Australia 52 American Samoa 0
5th-8th ranking semi-final: Solomon Islands 31 Nauru 5
5th-8th ranking semi-final: Cook Islands 24 American Samoa 19
SF1: Tonga 41 Samoa 5
SF2: Australia 36 Papua New Guinea 0
7th-8th play-off: American Samoa 33 Nauru 12
5th-6th play-off: Solomon Islands 14 Cook Islands 17
3rd-4th play-off: Samoa 54 Papua New Guinea 0
Final: Australia Tonga
Day 2 Women’s Results
Round 5: Samoa 7 Cook Islands 19, Fiji 43 Papua New Guinea 0
SF1: Cook Islands 15 Samoa 17
SF2: Fiji 40 Papua New Guinea 0
3rd-4th play-off: Cook Islands 32 Papua New Guinea 0
Final: Fiji 55 Samoa 0