Blitzbokke lose in Tokyo Sevens final

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iol spt mar23 Blitzbokke-Fiji Getty Images Swashbuckling Fiji upset South Africa in the Tokyo final to capture their second title of the IRB World Sevens season. Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Tokyo – Swashbuckling Fiji upset South Africa 33-26 in the Tokyo final to capture their second title of the IRB World Sevens season.

Rising star Waisea Nacuqu sprinted 70 metres to win it at the death for the Pacific islanders, settling a roller-coaster game which served as a wonderful advert for the sport's Olympic debut in 2016.

South Africa at least had the consolation of regaining top spot above New Zealand in the season's standings after reaching their fifth straight final, the “Blitzbokke” moving to 116 points, two ahead of New Zealand with three of the nine rounds left.

Dubai winners Fiji have 95 while England's third-place playoff win over defending Series champions New Zealand left them on 85.

“To finish above South Africa is a great way to end the two days,” said Fiji coach Ben Ryan after his side's smash-and-grab triumph. “We'll keep working hard and if we can knock over more trophies then it will give us momentum for next year.”

South Africa, winners in Tokyo last year, will fancy their chances of stretching their lead over New Zealand in Hong Kong next week after watching their close rivals lose to Fiji and England.

Fiji, the reigning Hong Kong title holders, produced a superb 17-12 semi-final win over the All Black Sevens, Samisoni Viriviri Ä who finished with a tournament-high nine tries Ä crashing over for the decisive score.

England compounded New Zealand's misery with a 21-12 victory to take third spot and salvage some pride after being thumped 17-0 by a clinical South Africa.

Fiji tore into South Africa in a breathtaking final brimming with skill and power, veteran Setefano Cakau breaking the 19-19

halftime deadlock with an end-to-end try.

Justin Geduld restored parity with a clever bump-and-run try, but Nacuqu's jet-heeled burst proved the difference, the youngster jubilantly shoving the ball up his jersey in celebration and keeping it there until the trophy ceremony.

Australia responded to a stinging half-time team talk from coach Michael O'Conner by beating the United States 17-12 to win the Plate competition, while Wales beat Scotland 28-21 to lift the Bowl.

Japan, who host the 2019 World Cup, shocked Samoa 42-12 to reach the last four of the same competition, only to implode against Wales after leading 14-0 at halftime, Alex Webber's sudden-death try giving the Welsh a 24-19 win.

Japan's Brave Blossoms gave their promotion playoff chances a real boost after a strong second day.

“It's an awesome great feeling to beat a top core team for the first time,” said Japan's Lote Tuqiri, who scored two tries in his side's first-ever win over Samoa. “It helps us build confidence for Hong Kong.”

Argentina thrashed Samoa 26-0 to win the Shield competition. – Sapa-AFP


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