Spread the love

SINGAPORE: Defending champions Fiji suffered a surprising setback against near-neighbours Samoa at the Singapore Rugby Sevens on Saturday (Apr 8), while series leaders New Zealand asserted their class with wins against Australia and South Africa in the pools.

Fiji had won the last 15 matches against their fellow Pacific islanders, but two tries by Paul Scanlan helped Samoa end that barren run as they cruised to a 28-7 win.

Samoa topped Pool B with a perfect record after victories against Spain and Canada.

“It’s a big win and it’s a good win for the boys as it builds our confidence,” Samoa coach Brian Lima said after the victory against Fiji.

“We hadn’t beaten Fiji for a long time. They’re an old rival and it is always a hard game for us but the boys were confident today. They held on to the ball well, kept their position and ended up putting a score on the board.”

Samoa set up a quarter-final against opening-day surprise package Uruguay, who beat USA 24-21 to reach the knockouts for only the second time this season.

The Fijians will play Pool C winners France, who beat Kenya and Uruguay and drew with USA.

Despite being drawn in a tough Pool A, New Zealand won all three of their games, trouncing Hong Kong 47-0 before seeing off Australia 24-12 and coming from behind to beat South Africa 12-7.

The Sevens All Blacks will face Great Britain in the quarter-finals on Sunday while Australia take on Argentina, after finishing runners-up in the pool following a 19-0 shut-out of South Africa.

Argentina topped Pool D after Macros Moneta made a late interception to score the winning try in a 19-17 win over Great Britain.

This year’s series – which has two stops to go after Singapore – also serves as Olympic qualifiers, with the top four teams automatically joining hosts France in the 2024 Games in Paris.

After eight tournaments, New Zealand lead the standings with 142 points followed by Argentina with 121, Fiji with 113 and France with 112.

If France finish in the top four, then fifth place will also come with a qualifying berth.

That spot is up for grabs, with South Africa, Australia and Samoa separated by only five points.