Fiji win Edinburgh 7’s as SA take series title

Fiji won rugby’s Edinburgh Sevens by beating newly crowned world series champion South Africa 20-19 in the final at Murrayfield on Sunday.

South Africa clinched its first series title the day before in winning their pool, and just came up short in capping the achievement with a fourth title in the eight-leg series.

On Sunday, the Africans downed Australia 17-7 in the quarterfinals, overcame host Scotland 26-21 in a sudden death extra-time semifinal, but couldn’t contain Fiji in an exciting finale.

Emosi Vucago scored early for Fiji, but Ryno Benjamin’s converted try put South Africa ahead.

Pio Tuwai and Osea Kolinisau touched down before halftime then captain Vereniki Goneva added a fourth try after the interval to give Fiji a seemingly insurmountable 20-7 lead. It was only just enough.

Gio Aplon’s try and Renfred Dazel’s converted score cut the deficit to one but South Africa ran out of time.

Earlier, Fiji avenged a quarterfinal defeat to New Zealand in the London Sevens a week ago by holding off the Kiwis 26-19 at the same stage.

Then Fiji handled World Cup champion Wales 28-14 to move into the final.

In the other semifinal, surprising Scotland seemed to have done enough to topple South Africa, but Benjamin’s last-gasp try gave Mzwandile Stick a conversion to tie the score at 21-21, and Stick nailed it. Aplon scored the winning try in extra time.

South Africa finished with 132 points in the overall standings, Fiji’s victory lifted it to second with 102, Bowl winner England had 98, and two-time defending champ New Zealand, the Plate winner, had 88.

South Africa reached the finals in five of the eight legs, and won three.

Fiji beat South Africa in both of its finals – the other was in Hong Kong – while England also won two titles and Argentina the other.

New Zealand, the dominant team in the series’ 10-year history, failed to win a tournament for the first time.


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