Fiji clinch RWC 7s crown
March 20, 2005

Fiji's Waisale Serevi capped a remarkable comeback to steer his side to a 29-19 victory over New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Sevens Final in Hong Kong.

Serevi, 36, scored a crucial sudden-death extra-time try to knock England out in the semi-finals and produced another as Wayne Pivac's side saw off their old enemies in the finale in front of a capacity crowd at the Hong Kong Stadium.

It is the second time that Fiji have secured the Melrose Cup after victory in 1997.

Fiji claimed the RWC Sevens title in an amazing show of power and strength, defeating New Zealand 29-19, capping off a fairytale ending to the tournament for captain Waisale Serevi.

Fiji signalled their intentions early with two tries in the opening minutes to Jonu Daunivucu and Serevi for a 10-0 lead.

Josh Blackie, one of New Zealand's players of the tournament, clawed the lead back to three with a coverted try before Fijian skyscraper Semisi Naevo crossed, taking the score to 17-7 at the break.

With the crowd willing them on to victory, Fiji scored first again in the second half through Vili Satala and Sireli Bobo to extend their lead by 22. New Zealand scored two late tries through Isaia Toeava and Rudi Wulf, but Fiji already had their hands on the Cup.

Both sides earned their place in the final with nail-biting wins in the semi-finals, New Zealand with a hard-fought four point victory over a much improved Australia and Fiji with a gripping extra time win over England.

Fiji's win ending England's dream of becoming the first nation to hold the Webb Ellis Cup and Melrose Cup at the same time.

With the old master Waisale Serevi calling the shots and his apprentice William Ryder responding to his every move, the Fijians took on all before them throughout the tournament. In a team full of stars, other to shine included Semisi Naevo, Vilimoni Delasau and Sireli Bobo.

New Zealand's strapping Josh Blackie stood tall throughout the tournament while Amasio Valence, Rudi Wulf, Liam Messam and Tafai Ioasa continually troubled opposition defences.

Earlier in the day, Gordon Tietjens men defeated France 33-7 in their quarter final clash while Fiji started their run to the final with a seven point win over Argentina.

Though it wasn't the one they were hoping for Samoa, secured their first piece of RWC Sevens silverware with an impressive win over Portugal in the Plate final.

Sailosi Tagicakibau and Junior Leota kept the scoreboard ticking over for Samoa while David Lemi continually showcased his brilliance, highlighted by a superb chip and chase to score under the posts.

Earlier Portugal accounted for tournament surprise package Tunisia 21-12 in the quarter-finals, then lifted another gear in their 24 point semi-final defeat of Georgia with speed merchant Antonio de Aguilar picking up a hat-trick.

Samoa, who missed a place in the Cup quarter finals by the narrowest of margins, advanced to the Plate final with a last gasp win over an unlucky Ireland in the quarter-finals and a 17 point win over Russia in the last four.

Italy pulled off a shock win over Canada to win the RWC Sevens Bowl final in a closely contested match after trailing 5-0 at half time .

Just to make the final is an outstanding effort for Italy considering their record of one win from five matches in their only previous RWC Sevens appearance back in 1993. Tomas Pucciariello starred throughout the tournament for Italy, scoring two tries in their quarter final win over Korea.

With just one win from four starts in Pool D, a place in the Bowl final is small consolation for Canada who came into the tournament with high expectations after reaching the Cup quarter finals four years ago.

Earlier in the day Italy defeated Korea 26-21 in the quarter finals before upsetting Kenya in the semi-finals 21-15.

Canada made their way to the final edging out Tonga 7-0 after running out convincing 30-0 winners over Uruguay in their first match of the knock out stage.

But today was all about Fiji and their master Waisale Serevi. We will almost certainly never see the great man play in another RWC Sevens tournament, but his place in history, already assured, has been cemented.

Fiji sevens fans can rest assured that, with the likes of William Ryder goosestepping and bamboozling opposition defences for years to come, this is unlikely to be the last time Fiji's name will be inscribed on the Melrose Cup.

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