Fiji Sevens move closer to World Rugby Sevens Series Title after London success
Last Updated: 03/06/18 8:05pm
Fiji secured a fourth consecutive tournament win in the ninth leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series at Twickenham on Sunday, and edged ever closer to the series title in the process.
Toulon winger Josua Tuisova scored a vital try as the Fijians secured a 21-17 victory over South Africa's Blitzboks to claim the London leg of the series.
With just the Paris leg of the series to play next weekend, Fiji now stand atop the standings on 167 points, with the Blitzboks in second on 160. New Zealand sit in third on 133.
Elsewhere at Twickenham, Ireland - an invitational side to this event - capped a remarkable weekend by claiming the bronze medal place after a last-gasp 21-19 success against England.
The Irish, who were appearing in their first series tournament since 2004, qualified to the quarter-finals for the first time in history on Saturday before going one better when shocking the USA to win 22-12 and book a last-four spot.
Would-be champions Fiji proved too strong, winning 38-12, but Jordan Conroy scored two first-half tries for the Irish against England in their final game, including one from 90 metres out, before Dan Bibby hit back with two of his own.
England speedster Dan Norton then took his record career try tally to 295 when he crossed early in the second half.
But Conroy showed all his pace by sprinting away for his hat-trick, Mark Roche nailing a tricky conversion to seal a memorable win.
Earlier in the day, Fiji had beaten Canada 40-7 in the quarter-finals before seeing off Ireland in the semis, while South Africa edged New Zealand 14-5 in the quarters and England - who had come from behind to beat Australia in the last eight - 29-19 in their last-four play-off.
In the final, Fiji's hopes of a fourth straight tournament win took an early blow when Sevuloni Mocenacagi was yellow carded from the kick-off for taking Justin Geduld out in the air.
South Africa immediately made their numerical advantage count, Stedman Gans scything through the stretched defence for the opening try, with Geduld converting.
Fiji did well, however, to absorb the Blitzbok pressure when a man down, and showed just why they average just 23 passes per match such is the efficacity of their strike power.
Tuisova, also part of the Fiji team that won Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 but not a regular on the circuit, muscled his way past some weak defence for a try, converted by Amenoni Nasilasila, to pull the Pacific islanders level.
Paula Dranisinukula was the final recipient of an amazing display of off-loading rugby started by Semi Radradra, crossing for Fiji's second try with Nasilasila making no mistake with a conversion in front of the posts.
The Boks hit back when Ruhan Nel expertly took a high pass one-handed and rode a tackle by Dranisinukula to cross in the corner, with Geduld missing the extras.
But Fiji responded perfectly, Jasa Veremalua skilfully exchanging passes with Josua Vakurunabili to go over for Fiji's third try, Nasilasila's conversion taking the Fijians out to 21-12.
Bok Zain Davids bounced through a couple of desperate tackles for a fine individual try to set up a dramatic finale, but Fiji won the restart and safely ran the ball out to seal the win.
"I found it tough today but I got help from the boys and was hanging in there. I know we trust each other and finally we get the win," said free-running Fiji back and man-of-the-final Radradra, who is quitting Top 14 club Toulon for Bordeaux-Begles next season.