Fiji outclass All Blacks in Tokyo
April 2, 2000

Apolosi Satala scored four tries and powered Fiji to a 27-22 victory over arch rivals New Zealand and a win in the Japanese rugby sevens title on Sunday.

It was sweet revenge for the Fijians in the ninth leg of the 10-round World Sevens series. They crashed to the same opponents in the final of the Hong Kong Sevens last weekend.

"We wanted to go back to Fiji smiling, because Fiji was crazy after we lost in Hong Kong. If we did not win today, then everybody would be chopped. Now we will be smiling when we go back," said Fiji coach Peni Veidreyaki.

"It's a pity that we lost in Hong Kong.

"We wanted to win, so that we could keep our status in the Sevens and also to win the Sevens series," he said.

New Zealand were always one try up in the first half with tries through Amasio Raoma, who converted the first, and Craig Hudson.

But each time Fiji tied, at 7-7 and 12-12 thanks to Satala's tries in the third and ninth minutes before Eric Rush added another for New Zealand to end the half at 17-12.

Two minutes into the second half, Satala completed a hat-trick to even the score and then made it 22-17 one minute later touching down near the left corner.

They never looked back with the two sides adding one more try each through Jope Tuikabe and Justin Wilson.

"We tried to take the ball wide. We have learned a lot from last week's defeat and we knew what we had to do," said Waisale Serevi, who received the most valuable player's award.

Fiji defeated France 34-14 in the quarter-finals and downed Canada 19-5 in the semi-finals, while New Zealand outclassed Papua New Guinea 35-0 and Australia 19-0 earlier in the day at the Prince Chichibu stadium.

Fiji gained 20 points for a total of 172 points in the series to stretch the lead in the overall standings over New Zealand, who received 16 points for 166 points, ahead of Australia third with 106 points.

New Zealand kept their hopes of overtaking Fiji alive in the final round in France on May 27-28.

Fiji and New Zealand have staged the finals eight times this season with Fiji winning five and New Zealand winning four.

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