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By ARU Media Unit
Fiji has won the inaugural Gold Coast Sevens Fever Pitch tournament, downing New Zealand 26-12 in a thrilling final at Skilled Park tonight.
In front of a crowd more than 16,000, the flamboyant South Pacific islanders captured the opening title on offer in the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series circuit with a comprehensive disposal of the highly-fancied Kiwis.
Fiji opened the scoring with a converted try to Stefano Cakau, only to fall behind when New Zealand crossed twice to lead 12-7 at halftime.
But the second stanza produced a dominant performance from the Fijians, with three tries – two of them converted – delivering the crowd favourites the title.
In a beaten side, New Zealand playmaker Tomasi Cama scored his side’s only two tries and was later named Player of the Tournament.
New Zealand earlier spoiled the party for a host nation desperate to win a Sevens World Series event on home soil for the first time in 10 years.
Three first half tries were the foundation of a 26-7 victory over the Australians.
In the third place playoff between the beaten semi-finalists, Australia took on South Africa, who had earlier fallen to Fiji.
South Africa opened the scoring inside two minutes and never forfeited the lead on the way to a 17-5 victory – despite having a player sin binned midway through the first half.
Coach Michael O’Connor said he was delighted with the effort from a young Australian side who were outgunned when it mattered most against New Zealand.
“I’m disappointed,” said O’Connor. “In the semi-final against New Zealand I thought the guys tried hard and they scrambled well in defence.
“But it was a good indication that this New Zealand side is pretty special.
“Hopefully our boys learnt a lot from that and while you’re never happy to lose, the start we have made to the series here – it’s better than we’ve had in the past in reaching the semi-finals of the opening tournament.”
O’Connor said he was impressed with the Fever Pitch event.
“I personally have really enjoyed it,” he said.
“It’s an absolutely fantastic stadium and the music, the entertainment and the vibe has been second to none.”
Fiji advanced to the final against the Kiwis after defeating South Africa 24-7 in the semis, having led 19-0 at halftime.
In other significant results on Day Two:
• Papua New Guinea won the Shield Final – the lowest tier of the four competitions on finals day – defeating Japan 31-19 in the decider.
• Argentina took out the Bowl Final with a hard-fought 17-14 win over Scotland.
• Sevens World Cup titleholders Wales took out the Plate Final with a 26-15 victory over Samoa.
Crowds for the two days of the Gold Coast Sevens at Skilled Park topped a collective 25,000.
Results on Day 2
Quarter-final Bowl: Tonga 7 Kenya 5
Quarter-final Bowl: Argentina 38 Japan 12
Quarter-final Bowl: Scotland 36 Niue 0
Quarter-final Bowl: USA 24 Papua New Guinea 5
Quarter-final Cup: New Zealand 24 England 14
Quarter-final Cup: Australia 14 Samoa 12
Quarter-final Cup: Fiji 33 Wales 5
Quarter-final Cup: South Africa 14 France 5
Semi-final Shield: Japan 19 Kenya 14
Semi-final Shield: Papua New Guinea 38 Niue 0
Semi-final Bowl: Argentina 24 Tonga 15
Semi-final Bowl: Scotland 19 USA 5
Semi-final Plate: Samoa 14 England 12
Semi-final Plate: Wales 14 France 12
Semi-final Cup: New Zealand 26 Australia 7
Semi-final Cup: Fiji 24 South Africa 7
Shield Final: Papua New Guinea 31 Japan 19
Bowl Final: Argentina 17 Scotland 14
Plate Final: Wales 26 Samoa 15
3rd/4th Playoff: South Africa 17 Australia 5
Cup Final: Fiji 26 New Zealand 12
The inaugural Gold Coast Sevens – Fever Pitch tournament is proudly brought to the Gold Coast through a partnership between ARU, the Queensland Government through Events Queensland and Gold Coast City Council.
Tom Kingston was nearly a Sevens player five years ago, just as he entered the professional rugby ranks.