Glory in Vegas for Fiji

Date published: February 14 2015

Fiji clinched the Las Vegas Sevens title in style with a comprehensive 35-19 victory over New Zealand, their first triumph there since 2007.

Injuries to the likes of Gillies Kaka and Joe Webber amongst others were setbacks for the Series holders, with both men on the bench, while Fiji had the psychological edge of having defeated New Zealand the day before.

Jerry Tuwai, the diminutive, rapid number nine, grabbed the first try in a breakaway effort after New Zealand pressed the Islanders back in their 22. He doubled Fiji's lead soon after, cutting in off his right foot attacking from a close-range scrum to score in a brilliant start.

Played out at a frantic pace, Tuwai nearly had a hat-trick only to be denied by Lote Raikabula's trysaving tackle. Isake Katonibau was lucky not to be penalised for what looked like a soft strike to the face, although retrospective action may take place.

All the pressure was on New Zealand as Fiji pinned them back yet again – Savenaca Rawaca was too powerful from close range, Fiji opening up an enormous 21-0 advantage by half-time.

Tuwai's incredible feet were the difference, toying with Dylan Collier at the start of a move that ended with Semi Kunatani thundering his way over for what felt like the winning score, even with all of the second half remaining.

New Zealand were typically resilient, scoring through 19-year-old Jack Goodhue, but this was Fiji's day. Kunatani added a second try before seeing yellow, Ambrose Curtis scoring either side of that to give the scoreline some respectability at 35-19. So it stayed, a crazy final finishing with Fiji's first title in Vegas since 2007.

Australia beat England 21-14 in the Plate Final, dominating possession early on to score three tries through skipper Ed Jenkins, Lewis Holland and Con Foley before an Alex Gray flick-pass sent Charlie Hayter across the stripe on the stroke of half-time to trail 21-7. England were within striking distance when Tom Mitchell broke through, racing 40 metres to score but Australia held to pick up a valuable 13 series points and retain fourthh place in the race for automatic olympic qualification, extending their margin over fifth-placed England to three points.

England booked a spot in the final against old foes Australia after scoring four tries to one, defeating France 26-5 in their Plate semi final. Meanwhile Australia beat Canada 17-0 to book their place against Simon Amor's men, scoring three unanswered tries in the first half.

Kenya beat Argentina 24-21, scoring three second-half tries. In a tight first half Bush Mwale scored for the Africans before Santiago Alvarez levelled. A double from Tony Opondo and Mwale's second opened the match up for the Kenyans before Segundo Tuculet and Francisco Merello struck back late for Argentina, but it was Kenya who claimed eight series points.

"It was a good game," said Opondo. "The Argentines were really tough in attack and we needed to make up for losing to them in the pool stages in the last few rounds. This win also makes up for losing to Fiji here last year."

Earlier, Kenya advanced to the Bowl final against Argentina, who came from 19-7 down to steal a late 21-19 victory over Scotland, after beating Samoa 19-5. Leading 7-5 at the break through a try to Michael Wanjala, Kenya finished strongly with second half tries to Lavin Asego and Billy Odhiambo providing the winning margin. 

Portugal beat Wales 19-12 to win the Shield final after leading 12-0 at half time courtesy of an Aderito Esteves brace. Nuno Guedes scored early in the second half extending the lead before Wales hit back with two late tries from Jason Harries and Luke Morgan. 

"We didn’t play well on the second day but it’s important for us to win a final at the end of the weekend. Even with the injuries today, we continue to play like brothers," said Portugal's Pedro Leal after the win.

Portugal survived a late fightback in their quarter final against Brazil, running out eventual 26-19 winners. Establishing a 12-0 lead early, Portugal found themselves trailing 19-12 with less than two minutes to play before tries to David Mateus and Guedes, his second of the match, sealed the win for the Portuguese. 

Final Day's Results/Fixtures:

Trophy Final:

Fiji 35-19 New Zealand

Third-place playoff:

South Africa 31-0 USA

Trophy semi-finals:

Fiji 24-19 South Africa

New Zealand 26-12 USA

Plate Final:

England 14-21 Australia

Plate semi-finals:
France 5-26 England
Australia 17-0 Canada

Bowl Final:

Kenya 24-21 Argentina

Bowl semi-finals:
Samoa 5-19 Kenya
Scotland 19-21 Argentina

Shield Final:
Portugal 19-12 Wales

Shield semi-finals:
Brazil 19-26 Portugal
Wales 47-33 Japan

Top ten after Round 4

1 South Africa 76
2 New Zealand 69
3 Fiji 64
4 Australia 58
5 England 56
6 Argentina 47
7 Scotland 42
8 USA 36
9 Samoa 31
10 Wales 30

With thanks to World Rugby