Fiji wins Vancouver World Sevens event
Beats Kenya 31-12 in final
Becomes first nation to win two titles in 2018
Fiji closed in on South Africa at the top of the World Rugby Sevens Series rankings with victory over Kenya in the final of the Canada Sevens for a second title of 2018.
The Fijians dashed Kenya’s hope of only a second sevens series victory with a commanding 31-12 triumph to become the first side to win two events this season.
The Pacific Islanders, who also won in New Zealand last month, only narrowly beat Kenya in a pool match and were tied 12-12 at halftime in the final in Vancouver.
But the Olympic champion ran in three tries after the break to ease clear, avenging the 2016 loss to Kenya in the final in Singapore in 2016.
Fiji leapfrogged New Zealand to sit eight points behind South Africa, which downed USA 29-7 in the third-place match after losing 15-21 to the Fijians in the semifinal.
‘Sense of pride’
It certainly looked as if Kenya was intent on reversing the narrow 24-21 defeat in the pool match after Willy Ambaka opened the scoring early in the first half.
Josua Vakurunabili leveled the score for the Fijians almost immediately, before Samuel Oliech promptly crossed the line to put Kenya back in front.
But Kenya couldn’t hold on to the lead and Sevuloni Mocenacagi crossed to level the score and set up what promised to be an enthralling second half.
However, Fiji snuffed out any hope of a famous Kenya victory.
Mocenacagi got his second try of the match soon after the restart, sparking a second-half rout in which Fiji scored 19 unanswered points.
“There’s a real sense of pride more than anything today,” Fiji head coach Gareth Baber told World Rugby.
“We handled ourselves well across the weekend to get to a final with Kenya, who we’d had a tough battle with yesterday.
“It was very close at the break, we hadn’t really played much at halftime but the team responded in the second half and produced the rugby that we know Fijians can and it was great to watch.”
Hong Kong bound
Despite defeat in the final, it was a fine weekend for Kenya which also had two players – Collins Injera and Oscar Ouma – make it into the Canada Sevens dream team.
Baber’s attention now turns to preparing his side for next month’s Hong Kong Sevens, the biggest competition in the World Series calendar.
“We learned from last weekend, losing to USA but we knew we had to come here and get something out of it to keep pressure on the top of the table and that’s what we’ve done,” he said, referring to the semifinal defeat by USA in Las Vegas.
“Mission accomplished as far as Vancouver is concerned and we go back to Fiji now to prepare for Hong Kong.”
England hammered Australia 31-4 to clinch fifth place, while Scotland beat Spain 25-5 to win the Challenge Trophy.