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Rugby: Fiji focused on Sevens World Series title after Hong Kong win

Fiji beat New Zealand 33-19 to win the Cathay/Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima.

Fiji beat New Zealand 33-19 to win the Cathay/Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens. Photo: World Rugby / Martin Seras Lima.

March 29, 2015: Fiji have firmly set their sights on their first HSBC Sevens World Series title since 2005-06 after beating New Zealand 33-19 to win their third Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in four years.


Fiji arrived in Hong Kong fresh from victory in Las Vegas in mid-February and after stretching their winning streak on the Series to 14 matches at the sixth round in Hong Kong, coach Ben Ryan says he’s now targeting a third straight Cup triumph in Tokyo and a Series success.


“If we can have a good tournament in Tokyo, a tournament we want to defend, then we’ve got a real chance of winning the World Series,” said Ryan, who was savouring his first Hong Kong Sevens success while Fiji extended their tournament record to 15.


“I hope we can put in a similar performance next week. That will be a huge test as the teams will be out to get us, but if we can win three on the bounce, then we’ve got a serious chance to win the title.”


Fiji won the 2014-15 season opener in Australia, but South Africa, who won their only Series title in 2008-09, and New Zealand, who have won 12 of the 15 Series, have since been the front-runners.


However, Fiji’s success in Hong Kong – the sixth round of the Series – moved them to 108 points, one above New Zealand and just two behind South Africa, who finished third in Hong Kong.


Jasa Veremalua scored Fiji's fourth try to halt any hopes of a New Zealand comeback.

Jasa Veremalua scored Fiji’s fourth try to quell any hopes of a New Zealand comeback in the second half.

As well as building up a head of steam on the Series, Fiji have also built up impressive head-to-head records against their main rivals, with their triumph in Hong Kong including a tension-filled 14-12 win over England in the quarters and a nervy 21-15 semi-final win over South Africa.


“I hope it breeds some confidence, a 14-game winning streak. It’s also five games in a row we’ve beaten New Zealand, so we’re building up a bit of a run against them, and it’s three in a row against South Africa,” said Ryan, the former England sevens coach who took over Fiji in September 2013.


“We’ve played six tournaments now and only lost four games. There’s a lot to be pleased about and if we can use that confidence, then we’re going to do well as long as we don’t relax and get overconfident. Tokyo, for me, is going to be just as important.”


Fiji lifted the Cup for the 15th time in Hong Kong following a dominant display against New Zealand, opening up a 21-0 lead through two tries by winger Savenaca Rawaca either side of one by scrumhalf Jerry Tuwai. New Zealand scrumhalf Beaudine Waaka pulled one back on the stroke of half-time to make it 21-5 at the break.


Forward Scott Curry then touched down in front of the posts early in the second half as New Zealand clawed back to 21-12, but substitute Jasa Veremalua halted any hopes of a comeback by scoring Fiji’s fourth try, with captain Osea Kolinisau putting over his fourth conversion to make it 28-12.


Curry scored a second try and Joe Webber converted to make it 28-19, but Fiji again responded as substitute Vatemo Ravouvou burst over the tryline before handing to Apisa Domolailai to touch down.


“New Zealand are an excellent side, but we defended intelligently against them and didn’t allow them the space that they would be after, particularly stretching us with inside balls. We shut that down,” Ryan said.


“We didn’t jump in. We didn’t make any naïve defensive errors. By and large, we were pretty sound on all of that. If we can do all that and allow our attack to do what it does, then we’re got the makings of a good side.”


Fiji actually had tougher tests earlier in the day, particularly in an engrossing but ill-tempered affair against his former side England, who knocked out Ryan’s side in the semi-finals last year.


“I’ve come here nine times, been in the final, lost a lot of close games, and there were times today when I thought it was going to happen again,” Ryan said.


“We were hanging on for dear life in the quarter-final and semi-final, but our defence got us through.”


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