Sydney — Fiji claimed their first World Sevens Series title in Sydney after an enthralling 12-10 win over the Blitzboks on Sunday. The Pacific Islanders had won five times on Australian soil — in Adelaide, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast — but never in Sydney.
But two first half tries from the dynamic Napolioni Bolaca was enough to see them home against the South Africans.
Fiji had signalled their intent this weekend when they comfortably accounted for New Zealand in the pool stages on Saturday. They then held off England 17-14 in the semifinals to set up the decider against SA, who saw off the US 19-12 in their semi.
In a final played in pouring rain, the Fijians opened the scoring in the second minute when Bolaca took advantage of an overlap to score his 11th try of the tournament. The Blitzboks struck back two minutes later with an unconverted try out wide to JC Pretorius.
But right on halftime Bolaca glided through the SA defence to give his side a crucial seven point lead at the break. The weather conditions made a free-flowing game difficult but the South Africans got back in the game with a try in the corner to Zain Davids with three minutes remaining.
However, the conversion attempt missed to the left and Fiji held on to win in front of thousands of local Fijian fans.
“Before we went on the field the message I told my team was just to come out here and enjoy it and just do the job,” Fiji captain Meri Derenalagi said. “We delivered on that so I just want to thank the soldiers behind me for the great effort they showed today.”