Fiji win their 12th Hong Kong sevens final

Fiji won a tense final against South Africa 26-24 to claim their first Hong Kong Sevens title in 10 years on Sunday.


The Fijians turned on the style in a flamboyant first half before clinging on as South Africa agonisingly put a last-gasp conversion wide.


Fiji took the last of 10 previous Hong Kong titles in 1999 and also lifted the 2005 World Cup here, while three-time finalists South Africa are still searching for their first win.


Coach Iliesa Tanivula brought a new-look squad to Hong Kong, axing his overseas-based stars who crashed out in this month’s World Cup quarter-finals.


“Back home we were written off by our fans but it worked in our favour,” Tanivula said.


“There were no expectations. It gave us motivation to do better.


Fijians around the world didn’t give us a chance but all credit to the boys, I take my hat off to them.” Two tries from Emosi Vucago and another from Osea Kolinisau put Fiji 19-0 up before South Africa’s Renfred Dazel and Robert Ebersohn pulled it back to 19-12 at half-time.


Seremaia Burotu skipped past three tackles to score early in the second half but indiscipline nearly cost Fiji dearly as both Nasoni Roko and Vereniki Goneva were sin-binned.


South Africa scored through Vuyo Zangqa and then Lionel Mapoe after the hooter to give them a chance to force extra time. But captain Mzwandile Stick pushed the vital conversion attempt right.


“We lost the game in the first half. Too many missed tackles and against a team like Fiji, that’s going to cost you,” said South Africa coach Paul Treu.


“I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t stick to our plan because the tournament was there for the taking.” With the win, Fiji go third in the Sevens World Series standings behind South Africa and England with three tournaments to go.


Fiji also stunned England 10-7 with a late try in the quarter-finals and convincingly beat Kenya 24-7 in the semis.


“I’m utterly disappointed,” said England coach Ben Ryan. “Sevens is like that – it’s on the turn of a coin, a change of advantage. One decision and the game changes.” South Africa downed Australia in the quarter-finals before beating Samoa 29-3 in the last four.


But defending champions New Zealand were left waiting for their first title of the season after being shocked 10-7 by Kenya in the quarter-finals.


In the second-tier Plate final, Tonga landed a conversion after the hooter to beat Canada 14-12, while Portugal downed Uruguay by the same score to claim the Bowl trophy.


The Hong Kong Sevens, played this year against the backdrop of recession, began in 1976 and has become a mainstay of expatriate life in the former British colony.


Sevens is also pushing for inclusion in the 2016 Olympics with a decision expected in October.



Finals
Fiji 26, South Africa 24

Plate
Tonga 14, Canada 12

Bowl
Portugal 14, Uruguay 12
Semifinals

Cup
South Africa 29, Samoa 3
Fiji 24, Kenya 7

Plate
Tonga 19, France 10
Canada 19, Wales 10

Bowl
Portugal 26, Japan 10
Uruguay 28, Zimbabwe 14

Quarterfinals

Cup
South Africa 24, Australia 10
Samoa 15, Argentina 12
Kenya 10, New Zealand 7
Fiji 10, England 7

Plate
France 17, South Korea 7
Tonga 29, Scotland 0
Canada 26, Hong Kong 5
Wales 22, United States 21

Bowl
Japan 26, Sri Lanka 10
Portugal 33, China 5
Uruguay 21, West Indies 12
Zimbabwe 40, Taiwan 14


IRB Sevens standings
South Africa 84
England 68
Fiji 62
New Zealand 60
Argentina 56
Kenya 42
Samoa 34
United States 20
Australia 14
Port

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