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Fiji dump the Eagles to win Cape Town 7s title

Prayer before the final. Photo: THE FIJI TIMES

CAPE TOWN, South Africa – December 10, 2018: 1.35pm (South China Morning Post): Fiji put in a vintage display to blow away the USA 29-15 for the South Africa Sevens title in Cape Town earlier this morning.

There were doubles for Kalione Nasoko and Valimoni Botitu, and a try for Sevuloni Mocenacagi. Another Ben Pinkelman score and a trademark Carlin Isles effort late on made the scoreline look a little bit more respectable for Mike Friday’s men.

But in the end, the USA were powerless to stop Fiji – who finished fifth in Dubai – winning their first title in South Africa since 2005, and their first ever in Cape Town.

 “It’s been a long time coming here for the Fijians to win in Cape Town,” Fiji coach Gareth Baber told World Rugby Sevens. “We were disappointed last week that we didn’t manage to perform to the levels that we did this week.

“That’s what makes me most proud, that these boys have done everything for their families back home, the country of Fiji and their Lord.

“It’s great, Fijian fans are everywhere in the world we travel. We say a big thank you to all those people who make such an effort to come and support us.

“We’ve had some battles here this weekend, most notably probably South Africa in the semi-final. But all credit to all the players and staff that are concerned with our team, they’ve manned up.”

Perry Baker taken in a Fijian tackle in the finals this morning. He was not able to score any tries as he was  closely marked throughout the game.

South Africa edged New Zealand 10-5 in a scrappy bronze medal match. Sione Molia put the All Blacks Sevens into the lead but scores from Werner Kok and Dewald Human either side of the break turned it around for the Blitzboks.

Fiji now sit third in the series standings, behind Dubai champions New Zealand and back-to-back finalists the USA.

“First I want to thank the Lord, without him I could not achieve what I did today,” player of the final Botitu told World Rugby Sevens. “I give all the honour and glory to Him.

“I thank the management for being here with me, and also the boys, they were giving me everything.”

In the fifth place play-off, England beat Spain 14-7 with tries from Charlton Kerr and Phil Burgess. Despite their defeat, Spain still recorded their best ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series finish.

Argentina were crowned Challenge Trophy winners after beating Samoa 38-14 in an entertaining final. Kenya beat Wales 33-26 in the 13th place play off.

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Fiji had snatched a 17-12 win to deny the Blitzboks in Sunday’s first Cup semi-final, before the USA gained a measure of revenge for their Dubai Sevens final defeat by smashing New Zealand 31-12.

Siviwe Soyizwapi gave South Africa the lead in a brutally physical encounter as the hosts showed some real urgency, only for scores from Botitu and Waisea Nacuqu to turn it around in the first half.

Rosko Specman levelled it up before Vatemo Ravouvou saw yellow for using his shoulder. But it was Fiji who pounced, as Alosio Naduva picked it up and burned through the middle to deliver a killer blow on the final hooter.

 The Eagles blew away New Zealand in the first half of their semi-final, with two early scores from Stephan Tomasin and Martin Iosefo.

Danny Barrett then got the crowd roaring by powering down the right and bulldozing through two defenders, who could only bounce off of him, before going over.

Perry Baker and Isles raced in down the left flank in the second half, with New Zealand getting a consolation score from Andrew Knewstubb in-between. Debutant Taylor Haugh then crossed at the end but it was all over.

And it was the USA’s efforts in that semi-final which took a toll on them against Fiji, according to Barrett.

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“We worked so hard in that semi-final to get where we are now,” Barrett told World Rugby Sevens after the final. “We didn’t get it done, but that’s a mark of what we’ve put in throughout our entire off-season.

“To come back from we did last year in Dubai, to make two consecutive finals here, it was just a bit of frustration let out from the last couple of years from us.

“It’s just a stepping stone for us. Our goal is to be a top-four team, hopefully win it if we can. I think this is a good step for us. We’ve done pretty well. It’s time to go home, lick our wounds and get after it again.”

Botitu races aways for his try against the Boks

Some dogged defending helped Spain to a 12-7 win over Scotland in the fifth-place semi-finals, with England battling to a 24-21 win against Australia.

Samoa won through to their second consecutive Challenge Trophy final after running in five tries to beat France 31-7.

Argentina won a tight battle against Canada 24-14 as yellow cards for Jake Thiel and Justin Douglas made an already tough task almost impossible.

Wales made it through to the 13th-place play-off with a 28-7 win over Japan, while Kenya got there by beating Zimbabwe 31-19.

On Sunday morning, Fiji powered into the Cup semi-finals with a 46-7 win against Spain in the Quarterfinals.

South Africa beat Scotland with Kok’s late try wrapping up a 21-12 win, and New Zealand brushed off Australia 26-17 to reach the last four.

The USA came from behind to beat England 19-12 thanks to two late tries from Barrett.

In the first match of the morning’s Challenge Trophy quarter-finals, Samoa saw off Wales 31-19, with two tries from captain David Afamasaga.

France then scored five tries in an easy 31-0 demolition of winless Japan, while Canada held off a strong challenge from Zimbabwe to secure a 34-31 win.

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