Fiji came from 15-0 behind at half-time to win the Las Vegas Sevens final in sensational fashion, beating Australia 21-15 in Round 5 of the Sevens World Series.
Having not won since the opening tournament in Dubai, two tries from Kitione Taliga and one from Savenaca Rawaca plus three crucial conversions from Vatemo Ravouvou proved the difference in front of 25,981 on a windy day in Las Vegas with the players dedicating the win to those back home.
“One week after Cyclone Winston struck we went back into camp and all the players said we were going to play here in Vegas,” said captain Osea Kolinisau.
“I reminded the boys this week that we needed to remember the people back home who were victims of Cyclone Winston and that we needed to give them something to be happy about after all the devastation. To come up against Australia like that was tough, but we said 10 minutes is a long time and all we needed to do was to get back the ball to have a chance to win.”
In a pulsating final Sam Myers begun proceedings before captain Ed Jenkins and Cameron Clark took their lead to 15-0 at half-time, but three missed conversions proved costly for the Australians who finished runners-up for a second successive tournament.
Fiji’s win gives them a five point lead at the top of the Sevens World Series standings ahead of South Africa (86) and New Zealand (82) at the halfway stage of the 2015/16 series with Australia in fourth.
Hosts USA finished fourth in Las Vegas after losing to South Africa in the third place play-off and sit fifth in the overall standings.
Fresh from two Cup wins on the trot, New Zealand had to settle for the Plate this time round after beating Japan 27-7. All Blacks Sevens stalwart DJ Forbes got Sir Gordon Tietjens’ side off to a flyer with an early try, which was further added to by Kurt Baker who weaved his way through the Japanese defence to dot down. Lewis Ormond added a third try for New Zealand to make it 15-0 at half time, and his side were soon 22-0 up after Forbes bagged his second try of the game. Kameli Soejima scored Japan’s only try of the half, but after New Zealand’s Beaudein Waaka powered over in the left hand corner it was game over for Japan.
Wales proved too strong for France in the Bowl final as they ran in four tries to win 28-14 in Nevada. Captain Luke Trehane sped away from the French defence to get the first points on the board for Wales and then set up the second score for Tom Isaacs to make it 0-14. France came back into the game immediately through Sofiane Guitone, to make it 7-14, but it was a short lived comeback as Ethan Davies scooted off the back of a scrum to increase the Welsh lead. Davies then turned provider for Luke Morgan, and with just over a minute left there was suddenly a 21 point gap putting the game out of reach. A late consolation try from Guitoune made it 14-28 at the final whistle.
Samoa walked away with the Shield after beating Canada 24-12. Despite going behind early on thanks to a quick try from Canada’s Mike Fuailefau’s, Samoa found their rhythm with an immediate response from superstar Samoa Toloa. It was all square at the break, 12-12, and the match was in the balance before Toloa again stepped on the gas to grab Samoa a seven point advantage. Alefosio Tapili finished off the game with a late try to gift the Pacific islanders some silverware at the Las Vegas Sevens.
Final: Fiji 21-15 USA
Bronze Final: USA 10-21 South Africa
Semi-Finals: USA 14-21 Fiji, South Africa 12-14 Australia
1) Fiji – 91 points
2) South Africa – 86
3) New Zealand – 82
4) Australia – 73
5) USA – 64
6) Argentina – 64
7) England – 52
8) Kenya – 52
9) France – 36
10) Scotland – 32
11) Samoa – 31
12) Canada – 23
13) Wales – 22
14) Japan – 20
15) Russia – 12
16) Portugal – 9
17) Zimbabwe – 1
With thanks to the World Rugby Sevens website