Wellington Sevens: BlitzBoks smash Fiji in bruising Final
FINAL WRAP: South Africa stretched their lead at the top of the Sevens World Series with a commanding 26-5 victory over Fiji in the Final of the Wellington leg in Sunday.
The BlitzBoks, despite going down 0-5 early in the encounter, produced another impressive defensive effort to force the Fijians into numerous errors and from those scored all four their tries.
South Africa, who won in the opening leg in Dubai and finished runners-up in Cape Town back in December, now lead second-placed Fiji by 12 points (63 to 51) on the overall standings. England (49), Scotland (44) and New Zealand (39) are next best.
In the third-place play-off Scotland edged Canada 26-22, while Argentina edged hosts New Zealand 17-12 in the fifth-place play-off.
Philip Snyman, South Africa's captain, spoke of the hard work the team has done since their loss to England in the Cape Town Final.
"We played some great rugby this weekend," Snyman said, adding: "Thank you to the whole of Wellington, we are really grateful for the win.
“We are happy to get a first win [in Wellington] since 2002 and it's extra sweet after last year's defeat in the Final.
"Playing Fiji twice in one weekend doesn't make it easier, but our defence system was great. Hats off to the guys and the coaching staff. It wasn't zero tries, so definitely some work to be done before Sydney."
* After 15 defeats in a row, Kenya claimed a rare win (19-17) over Australia in the Challenge Trophy Final.
"We wanted to seep our focus, as Australia is a quality side," Collins Injera said.
"We stood up and got the win. Today [Sunday] was very windy, the toughest I have had here since my debut in 2006."
We look at all the finals on Day Two!
Cup Final - Fiji 5-26South Africa
The first try went to Fiji after a couple of minutes, when Joeli Lutumailagi went over in the left corner - following a set-piece move that dew in South African defenders in Midfield and exposed them out wide.
A yellow card to Setareki Bituniyata for an ugly spear tackle allowed the BlitzBoks the extra space that saw Seabelo Senatla go over and the South Africans take a 7-5 lead into the break.
The BlitzBoks stretched their lead early in the second half, as Senatla's pace opened the space - some sublime handling allowing Rosko Speckman going over - 14-5.
It was the BlitzBoks' renowned defence that put the pressure on and forced a Fijian error inside their 22 and from the scum Ruhan Nel powered over for a 19-5 lead.
Another turnover from a massive hit by the BlitzBoks saw Nel get his second and seal a 26-5 win - the second time this weekend South Africa had demolished Fiji in a cruising encounter.
Third-place play-off - Scotland 28-22 Canada
Canada struck first in the third-place play-off match, with Adam Zaruba who took the outside break - demonstrating his devastating turn of pace.
Scotland struck back through James Fleming out wide and with the conversion Scotland held a slender 7-5 lead.
Adam Zaruba has been prolific in Wellington and grabbed another try to make it 12-7 to Canada. However, Scotland struck back on the stroke of half-time - as James Fleming stepped inside with ruthless effect - to grab a 14-12 lead.
A mistake from the restart gave Scotland a scrum feed and James Fleming outpaced the Canadian defence to extend Scotland's lead to 21-12.
Canada responded instantly through Adam Zaruba ... again! The gap had closed to 21-17 with three minutes to play. Canada hit the lead soon after as Isaac Kaay waltzed over - 22-21.
However, Scotland went 90 metres to score - with Fleming using his pace to outsprint the cover - and take out the bronze medal against Canada - 28-22.
"It was an enjoyable game, it was a whole squad effort," Fleming said.
"We have been building for the last two years, new coach, consistent squad, and Twickenham gave us belief. We're looking forward to the next one. We are hitting quarterfinals and semifinals consistently now and it is awesome to have the squad we do."
Fifth-place play-off - New Zealand 12-17 Argentina
A huge early kick from All Black Sevens captain Tim Mikkelson made Argentina run out of their own half. He needed some attention too because his finger was pointing in a way that it really shouldn't have been. Vilimoni Koroi, who has been effective for New Zealand all day, threw a quick pass outside to Regan Ware, who had the space on the flank to put his side ahead.
Los Pumas turned up the tempo and after a big carry there was a dazzling offload by Felipe del Mestre to set up Lautaro Bazan Velez. Gaston Revol converted and Argentina held a 7-5 lead at the halfway point.
A classy set-piece play by the Kiwis allowed skipper Scott Curry to charge through to score. They lead 12-7 over Argentina with just over two minutes remaining.
However, Argentina hit back when an overlap allowed Velez to score his second of the match and lock the scores up at 12-all with 90 seconds to play. And Franco Sabato then went over in the corner, after New Zealand surrendered possession, to secure a 17-12 win for the South Americans over the Kiwis and fifth place.
Santiago Gomez Cora, Argentina's coach, said he was pleased with his side's efforts this weekend.
"We are very happy, we produced a 'perfect' match," he said, adding: "The problem is the matches before where we made lots of mistakes. Our idea is to develop our key players, we just need to keep our focus and try to win something and make a new team."
Challenge Trophy Final - Kenya 19-17 Australia
Samuel Oliech was the beneficiary, as Billy Odhiambo spotted a gap and offloaded to Oliech for the first try of the match.
Billy Odhiambo then went from hero to villain - as he crossed the tryline, but instead of putting it down he attempted to throw it to all-time leading try scorer Collins Injera. But James Stannard is in the way and prevents the try. Odhiambo then made amends as he burst down the wing and this time provided the PERFECT offload for Injera to score his 237th try!
Henry Hutchison gave Australia a glimmer of hope, scoring on the stroke of half-time under the posts. It was their first possession of the half and they scored relatively easily - making it 14-7 to Kenya
Odhiambo then followed up his delicate kick down the wing to just get his fingertips to the ball and the TMO was needed to confirm that he got his sixth of the weekend.
Dylan Pietsch kept Australia in it with his first-ever try - with just one minute left and the score at 19-12. James Stannard then set up Mick Adams to score in the corner. Stannard stepped up with a conversion that would have sent the match into extra time, but it drifted wide.
Thirteenth-place play-off - Russia 12-19 Samoa
There was immediate drama inside 22 seconds, as Laaloi Leilua went up the middle of the field and broke the deadlock for Samoa. The debutant then has the power and the speed to score another. Eduard Filatov put Russia on the board, with just five points in it at the halfway point.
Alamanda Motuga strikes seconds after the restart, though, and although they had put some good passing phases together, Russia lost their way a little.
There was a try by Lazarenko with just over a minute left on the clock, but the Russians just could not find the score that would have sent the game into extra time.
Samoa's captain Tila Mealoi said: "I'm proud of my team. It's quite young side and there are a few new guys in the team. We are really happy and really proud. We have given a springboard to the new guys, and we are now working on some structure with Gordon [Tietjens]. There is a big improvement in our fitness, which is the first thing we are looking at."
Sources: @WorldRugby7s & @rugby365com