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Rugby: Fiji win Gold Coast Sevens; Japan bow out in Shield semis

Fiji beat Samoa 31-24 to win the Gold Coast Sevens, after England earlier upset series champions New Zealand in the quarter-finals. Photos: IRB / Martin Seras Lima.

Fiji beat Samoa 31-24 to win the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia, after England earlier upset series champions New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the opening event of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series. Photos: IRB / Martin Seras Lima.

October 12, 2014: Fiji defeated Samoa 31-24 in the final of the Gold Coast Sevens to win round one of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series and take an early lead in the race for Olympic qualification. Japan earlier bowed out in the semi-finals of the fourth-tier Shield on their debut appearance as a core team on the series.

 

In the Cup final, Setefano Cakau scored two tries in the first half before Apisai Domolaili and Semi Kunatani also scored to help Fiji lead 26-0. Samoa’s Fautua Otto scored just before half-time and Lolo Lui, Siaosi Asofolau and Tila Mealoi touched down in the second half to narrow the gap to just two points with four minutes left, but Fiji sealed the win late on when Jasa Veremalua crossed the line.

 

“It was a rollercoaster final, but we hung on in there,” said Fiji coach Ben Ryan. “We are by no means the finished product. I feel at home in Fiji and we are grateful for all of the support back in the country.”

 

England finished third after two Dan Norton tries secured a 19-0 win over South Africa. England earlier recorded their best victory over New Zealand since 2003 when they recorded a 31-7 quarter-final win against the defending series and 2013 Gold Coast Sevens champions, with captain Phil Burgess scoring two tries in the win.

 

It was the first time the All Blacks Sevens had not made a Cup semi-final since Dubai 2011, but New Zealand bounced back to finish their tournament with a 36-21 win over Argentina in the Plate final. The Kiwis scored five tries in the first half as Joe Webber followed on from his semi-final hat-trick with a try, while Argentina fought back in the second half with three tries, including Francisco Merello’s 60th World Series try.

 

“We set high standards so to trip up in the quarter-final was massive for us,” said New Zealand captain DJ Forbes. “It wasn’t ideal but, in terms of the World Series, you’ve got to start somewhere.”

 

Webber earlier scored a hat-trick as New Zealand bounced back from their defeat to England to beat Wales 39-5 in their Plate semi-final, before Axel Muller scored two tries in the final minute as Argentina beat hosts Australia 21-17 in the other semi.

 

Australia captain Ed Jenkins said: “It’s our first tournament of the year and it’s pretty disappointing to come away with not many points, but the boys will have to regroup going into Dubai and South Africa. With this group and its experience, we just have to work to shut down a game when we get the chance.”

 

Mike Friday picked up some silverware in his first tournament in charge after USA beat France 31-15 in the Bowl final, with Zack Test and Perry Baker both adding tries to their tournament tallies.

 

“We’ve had to learn some harsh lessons this weekend, but they’ve played some good rugby today,” said Friday, the former England Sevens coach. “There are a lot of good teams here, the level is rising and we need to move from being participants to competitors.”

 

In the Bowl semi-finals, USA recorded a 33-0 win over Portugal as Baker bagged a hat-trick while France also left their opponents scoreless, beating Scotland 26-0 in their semi-final.

 

Canada beat Kenya 40-7 in the Shield final, with Harry Jones scoring two tries and five conversions to rack up half of his team’s points. Sean Duke managed a double in just two minutes while Jake Webster and Conor Trainor scored one five-pointer each.

 

Japan rued three missed kicks as they bowed out in the Shield semis, losing 17-15 to Kenya despite an impressive start to the match. After Kenya scored first, Kentaro Kodama and Lemano Lemeki both scored tries, but flyhalf Katsuyuki Sakai missed both conversions as Japan led 10-7 at half-time.

 

Kenya scored early in the second half to lead 12-10 before Japan again took the lead when Yuho Ashiya touched down, with Lemeki missing the conversion this time. Japan were to pay for three missed conversions when Kenya scored with just over 30 seconds left on the clock to book their place in the final.

 

In Pool A on Saturday, Japan lost to France (33-14), New Zealand (59-0) and Samoa (40-14) to move into the quarter-finals for the bottom eight teams. Japan then lost 26-5 to USA.

 

Source: IRB Sevens (www.irbsevens.com); Editing by SportAsia

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