Fiji wins Cape Town Rugby Sevens as US falls in final again
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Fiji capitalized on mistake after mistake by the United States to win the Cape Town World Rugby Sevens 29-15 on Sunday, sending the Americans to a second straight defeat in a final at the start of the season.
The upside for the U.S. is that it leads the series standings by a point from New Zealand.
Fiji had already scored four tries to go 22-0 up before the U.S. could respond and the Fijians clinched their first title in South Africa since 2005.
Kalione Nasoko was the first over for Fiji in the third minute as no U.S. defender committed and he kept going down the left wing. Vilimoni Botitu intercepted and raced away from deep inside Fiji’s half for the second. Sevuloni Mocenacagi scored off Perry Baker’s error, when he threw the ball away, and Botitu’s second came when he broke through two half-hearted tackles.
Ben Pinkelman scored two consolations for the U.S., either side of Nasoko’s second and Fiji’s fifth try, a classic from deep by the Pacific Islanders.
Speedster Carlin Isles ended the tournament with a try for the Americans, but they couldn’t get finishers Baker and Isles into the game enough before that. When Baker did get possession in the first half, he was wrapped up every time by Fiji’s defense.
The U.S. lost to New Zealand in the final of last weekend’s season-opener in Dubai. It has made consecutive finals for the first time but is still looking for just its third tournament win in nearly 20 years on the circuit.
Host South Africa won the bronze in Cape Town, beating New Zealand 10-5 and avenging a last-gasp group-stage loss to the New Zealanders. Dewald Human broke the third-place game open for the Blitzboks with just over a minute to go when he squeezed in at the left corner for the clinching try.
Fiji earlier beat series defending champion South Africa 17-12 in the semifinals with a last-second try. The U.S. did get one back over the New Zealanders by impressively toppling them 31-12 in their semifinal, with Danny Barrett’s barnstorming try in that game one of the highlights of the tournament.