Fiji has beaten Samoa 31-24 to win the Gold Coast rugby sevens tournament and make a perfect start to this year’s IRB World Sevens series.
Fiji has claimed a third Gold Coast rugby sevens title to get its quest for a maiden Olympic medal off to a perfect start.
The Pacific Island powerhouse won a thrilling final against near-neighbours Samoa on Sunday, holding on for a 31-24 victory despite a brave Samoan fightback.
The Fijians raced to a 26-0 lead in the first half, with Setefano Cakau scoring a double, before the Samoans piled on 24 unanswered points either side of half-time to roar back into the contest.
Jasa Veremalua’s strong run sealed the win for the Fijians however, ensuring they lead the world sevens series after the first of nine events.
This year’s IRB World Sevens series doubles as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympic tournament in Rio with the top four-ranked countries earning an automatic berth.
Fiji has never won an Olympic medal but will be among the favourites if they can reach Rio.
The Fijians didn’t lose a game in this weekend’s tournament, beating Australia in Saturday’s final pool match before demolishing Wales (31-10), England (48-7) and Samoa to make it three wins from four trips to the Gold Coast.
England, who stunned New Zealand with a 31-7 win over the world champions in the quarter-finals, finished third with a 19-0 win over South Africa.
New Zealand recovered from their quarter-final defeat to win the consolation plate and fifth place in the tournament with a comfortable win over Argentina.
The result is still the All Blacks’ Sevens worst at an IRB sevens tournament since they also finished fifth in Dubai in 2011.
Australia had to settle for a share of seventh with Wales after they suffered back-to-back defeats on Sunday.
The Thunderbolts fell agonisingly short in their quarter-final against Commonwealth Games champions South Africa, losing 12-10 before slumping to a 21-17 loss to Argentina in the plate semi-final.
South Africa will rue an opportunity missed to put some distance between them and the All Blacks in the standings, finishing fourth.
The next leg of the world series will be in Dubai in December.
via AU Sports