Blitzboks come close as Bolaca double guides Fiji to Sydney Sevens win

02 February 2020 - 14:05 By AFP
Fiji players celebrate after winning the gold medals in the final between South Africa and Fiji during the Sydney Sevens rugby tournament at Bankwest Stadium on February 2, 2020.
Fiji players celebrate after winning the gold medals in the final between South Africa and Fiji during the Sydney Sevens rugby tournament at Bankwest Stadium on February 2, 2020.
Image: SAM MOOY / AFP

Fiji claimed their first World Sevens Series title in Sydney after an enthralling 12-10 win over South Africa on Sunday.

The Pacific Islanders had won five times on Australian soil -- in Adelaide, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast -- but never in Sydney.

But two first half tries from the dynamic Napolioni Bolaca was enough to see them home against the South Africans.

Fiji had signalled their intent this weekend when they comfortably accounted for New Zealand in the pool stages on Saturday.

They then held off England 17-14 in the semi-finals to set up the decider against South Africa, who saw off the USA 19-12 in their semi.

In a final played in pouring rain, the Fijians opened the scoring in the second minute when Bolaca took advantage of an overlap to score his 11th try of the tournament.

The Blitz Boks struck back two minutes later with an unconverted try out wide to JC Pretorius.

But right on halftime Bolaca glided through the South African defence to give his side a crucial seven point lead at the break.

The weather conditions made a free flowing game difficult but the South Africans got back in the game with a try in the corner to Zain Davids with three minutes remaining.

However, the conversion attempt missed to the left and Fiji held on to win in front of thousands of local Fijian fans.

"Before we went on the field the message I told my team was just to come out here and enjoy it and just do the job," Fiji captain Meri Derenalagi said.

"We delivered on that so I just want to thank the soldiers behind me for the great effort they showed today."

Earlier, New Zealand's women made it four tournament wins this season when they downed Canada 33-7.

Player of the match Tyla Nathan-Wong put the Kiwis ahead in the fifth minute, but two minutes later Canadian speedster Charity Williams scored under the posts to level the match.

However, New Zealand's Gayle Broughton scored right on half-time and the series leaders asserted their dominance with second-half tries to Niall Williams, Therena Fitzpatrick and Alena Saili.

"They're a quality team, New Zealand captain Sarah Hirini said of her Canadian opponents.

"It's pretty tough to tackle those girls so I'm just so proud of our efforts."

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