Fiji advance despite two defeats
HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens' defending champions Fiji made it to the quarter-finals despite losing two of their Pool A matches on Saturday.
The Fijians started with a 50-12 victory over Canada, during which they lost star player Jerry Tuwai to a hamstring injury after just two minutes.
With Tuwai unavailable, the Fijians slumped to 19-12 loss to Scotland in their second game, which meant they needed to beat reigning World Sevens series champions South Africa to ensure their place in the last eight.
But they were handed a lifeline as the Scots then lost 33-10 to bottom side Canada. Despite losing 17-7 to South Africa, Fiji progressed to the Cup quarter-finals by virtue of a superior points difference to Scotland (21 to -42).
Fiji coach Gareth Baber acknowledged that the injured Tuwai was sorely missed.
He said: “We lost probably the most influential player early in the tournament during the first game against Canada. Obviously, experience is a big thing...
"Even in the Scotland game, we were after everything, we just didn’t get the breaks, and that happens in rugby. Against South Africa, we showed great endeavour and some huge amount of work and we were able to capitalise on some of the pressure positions we put ourselves in - that was very good as well.
"We’re not far away. If you look at last weekend, what has happened there and coming to Singapore, it’s always tough, but no excuses, we’ve got to get better as the tournament goes on.”
Fiji are second in the Sevens Series standings with 123 points, seven behind leaders the US.
Waiting for them in the quarter-finals are New Zealand, who pulled off a stunning 26-22 comeback win over Samoa in Pool D, after trailing 17-5 at half-time. Tries by Tim Mikkelson and Akuila Rokolisoa in the final two minutes of the match swung the tie in the All Blacks Sevens’ favour.
The US also booked their spot in the final eight, winning all three of their Pool C matches against England (22-7), Wales (31-12) and Kenya (17-14). They play Argentina.
Australia take on England while South Africa face Samoa in the other quarter-final ties.
Cup matches on Sunday (April 14): Quarter-finals (from 11.30am), semi-finals (from 3.50pm), final (7pm)
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now