Fiji beats Australia in thriller to win Singapore Sevens
SINGAPORE (AP) — Alasio Sovita Naduva scored a length of the field try after the final siren as Fiji beat Australia 28-22 in a heart stopping finale to Sunday’s Singapore Sevens to leapfrog South Africa at the top of the world series standings.
The Rio Olympic champions rebounded from the disappointment of losing to New Zealand in the gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games at Australia’s Gold Coast earlier this month by capturing their first title in Singapore in spectacular fashion.
Close to exhaustion in the sweltering humidity of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islanders looked to have blown their chance of winning after squandering an early 14-point lead to trail Australia 22-21 when regular time ended.
The Australians thought they had secured victory when they scored off the final kick-off but the referee ruled they had knocked the ball on, giving the flamboyant Fijians a scrum on their own line and one last chance to snatch victory, which they took full advantage of, with Naduva racing down the other end to score the winner under the posts.
Fiji had earlier been in cruise control after Waisea Nacuqu scored twice in the first five minutes but the dogged Australians replied with two tries in the final minute of the first half from Dylan Pietsch and Maurice Longbottom to cut the margin to 14-10 at the break.
Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai gave his side a 21-10 lead when he scored against the run of play early in the second half but the Australians responded again, with tries from Brandon Quinn and John Porch to briefly snatch the lead only to be snuffed out on the final play.
Fiji also won this season’s tournaments in New Zealand, Canada and Hong Kong and with the latest win, the Pacific Islanders moved four points clear of South Africa at the top of the standings with just two of the 10 legs remaining.
“I’m speechless. Australia are a very good side and took us to the wire. We gave everything for this final,” Tuwai said. “Winning this tournament will boost our morale going to London and Paris.”
Fiji also avenged their Commonwealth Games loss to New Zealand by beating the All Blacks Sevens 24-19 in the quarterfinals then overturned a 10-0 deficit to defeat South Africa 12-10 in the semifinals.
Australia, under the guidance of new coach Tim Walsh for the first time, scraped past Spain 7-5 in the quarterfinals then England 15-7 in the semis to reach their second final of the season after winning at home in Sydney.
England, bronze medalists at the Gold Coast, defeated the Blitzboks 26-24 in the third place playoff after Tom Mitchell converted Mike Ellery’s last-minute try.